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Posts Tagged ‘Bandon Natural Area Proposal’

While we’ve been gone from our home state much has happened here on the coast to cheer about.

Jordan Cove LNG Terminal Permit Denied

LNG pipelinesPerhaps the biggest and brightest win here on the coast was the denial by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) of the Canadian-based energy company Verisen’s application for a permit to construct a liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal on Coos Bay’s north spit.

Through 14(!) years of shenanigans that began with the coy proposal that Jordan Cove would be for import (which local activists doubted from the start) and ended with the old switch-a-roo to export, ultimately the Jordan Cove project sunk when the company couldn’t prove the need for it. (Currently there are no potential overseas buyers for the LNG.) Additionally the company had been unsuccessful in securing the rights-of-way for the pipeline linking Wyoming’s gas fields to the oceanside facility. Verisen would have had to rely on eminent domain to seize the necessary land route (long, costly and likely to create very hostile [ex]landowners).

Both sides were stunned by the decision which came without warning Friday March 10. While local activists cheered, Verisen pledged to re-submit. But for now the terminal, located in a tsunami zone and near a school, is dead in the water.

For more information see: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2016/03/feds_deny_jordan_cove_lng_term.html

There are also previous posts on this blog. Search “Coos Bay LNG terminal”.

Bandon Biota Abandons Golf Course Plans for State Park Land

Bandon Property Boundaries courtesy of the Oregon Coastal Alliance

Bandon Property Boundaries
courtesy of the Oregon Coastal Alliance

In September 2015 Bandon Biota LLC, the developers who brought the south coast Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, abandoned plans to use a piece of undeveloped state parkland south of Bandon in a land/money/gorse clearing swap that included helping to purchase land in Eastern Oregon for a new park. Folks in Eastern Oregon weren’t too happy about that, nor, it ended up, was the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) who originally passed the Bandon coastal land to State Parks. BLM nixed the deal because the original documents of transmission stated that the land would remain permanently undeveloped park, no matter the apparent enticements offered. Many had argued from the beginning that agreeing to swap state park land would set an unfortunate precedent and were greatly disappointed by the State Parks Commissioners April, 2014 decision to give the project the green light. Since it turned out it was really BLM’s decision to make, they untimately stepped in and stopped the project.

You can see more about it here: http://www.oregoncoastalliance.org/victories/bandon-biota-exchange-a-controversial-project-ends/

There are a number of previous posts about this “deal” also on this website. Enter “Bandon biota” in search.

Next Up: Oregon phases out Coal and the hottest February ever.

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Gorse Removal in BSNA courtesy of oregonlive

Gorse Removal in BSNA
courtesy of oregonlive

Bandon Biota/State Park Land Swap: Well, it happened. The State Parks Commission in their April meeting said Yes, 4 to 2. Grant County, which had said they really didn’t want a park in their territory, led to a suspension of land acquisition originally slated to be part of the greater deal and those monies ($2.4 million) will be set aside for “future acquisition” of park lands. The 2 Nays weren’t comfortable setting aside such a large amount of money without specified acquisition lands. Now it’s up to the Bureau of Land Management (the original “owner”) to agree to changes in the original land exchange to the state regarding public use of the area forever. I imagine they’ll say yes.

In summary the vote agrees that Bandon Biota (the golf course developer) will:

  • Convey two properties to in the Bandon area into the state park system totaling 208 acres.
  • Contribute $300,000 to help combat an invasive plant (gorse) on nearby state park properties.
  • Pay $2.5 million into an escrow account to fund future acquisition of state park property.
  • Offer access to property to move the Oregon Coast Trail north of Bandon off a county road.
  • Contribute $450,000 as match for a federal grant to acquire 11 acres of coast property in Lincoln County known as Whale Cove (this contribution was made before the commission acted and was not contingent on commission approval of the larger exchange).

Wand to know more? See: http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/pages/commission-bandon.aspx

Future Pacific Gales Clubhouse Site courtesy of Alysha Beck

Future Pacific Gales Clubhouse Site
courtesy of Alysha Beck

Pacific Gales: Yet another golf course proposal, this time at the end of Knapp Road just north of Port Orford. After the Curry County Land Use Commission approved a conditional (not exclusive farming) land use for the proposed area, the Oregon Coastal Alliance appealed the decision to the Land Use Board of Appeals. The proposal was withdrawn and re-worked to address the appeals’ concerns, and was put before the Planning Commission on Thursday, Sept. 11. No decisions were made at that meeting and more meetings on the revised proposal are in the offing.

The developers remain confident, feeling they have broad community support. To quote Jim Haley, managing partner of the development company, ““I’ve been messing around this place a long time,” he said.  “I’m not quitting. I’m going to win.”

Here’s what was re-submitted to the Planning Commission:
http://www.co.curry.or.us/Departments/Public-Services/Planning-Commission

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At its Corvallis meeting on Wednesday, November 20 the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously approved all four motions regarding this action (quoted below from the meeting’s press release http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/Documents/bandon-november-action.pdf):

Motion 1: the Commission finds that the contemplated Bandon Biota exchange meets the “overwhelming public benefit” standard of OAR 736-019-0070(4) and instruct the department to prepare a proposed final order for Commission approval.Motion 2: the Commission finds that the acquisition of Grouse Mountain Ranch meets the acquisition standards in OAR 736-019-0060 and instruct the department to prepare a proposed final order for Commission approval.

Motion 3: the Commission directs the Department to continue good faith efforts to address local community concerns as reflected in the Governor’s letter dated November 19, 2013.

Motion 4: the department will accept additional written testimony until December 6, 2013, regarding the proposed exchange or the proposed Grouse Mountain Ranch acquisition to afford the department the opportunity to consider the comments in preparing the proposed final orders.

Apparently the Bandon Biota’s latest golf course, slated for the Natural Area, is overwhelmingly beneficial to the public. Other pledged land and matching cash for acquisition, lots of cash for a new eastern Oregon State Park, and a promise of gorse removal might have had something to do It. The letter Governor Kitzhaber penned supporting the swap might have also had some impact on the decision.

I admit I couldn’t bring myself to listen to the 2+ hour audio of the meeting. A quick glance through the additional comments received didn’t seem to suggest overwhelming approval from the public, especially those in Grant County, the eastern Oregon locale of the potential new state park. Skimming through the botanist’s report on the natural area vegetation in the swap area, I noticed some interesting maps, two which appeared to  show rare plant distributions (pg. 38 and 39), and another (pg. 44) at least one area of “highest natural resource value. Habitat contains legally protected species.” http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/Documents/bandon-habitat-inventory-20131029.pdf

I also noted that the Governor’s letter was not “cced”  to any elected official or office in Grant County. I doubt State Parks employees are looking forward to addressing Motion 3’s direction to address local community concerns. As far as I can tell, so far nobody’s talked much with anybody out there at all about this idea.

Final Commission approval is slated to be considered at its next meeting, February 5, 2014 in the Salem area.

Want to get involved? You’ve got until December 6. Email at: oprd.publiccomment@state.or.us

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In July (“South Coast Natives?”) we reported on a proposed land swap plus money deal proposed to the Oregon Recreation and Parks Department (ORPD) by Bandon golf course developer Mike Keiser (dba Bandon Biota). This  revises their 2010 proposal which was rejected because it did not meet the ORPD criterion of “overwhelming public benefit”.

From ORPD’s The Bandon State Natural Area Exchange Proposal:

“The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and representatives with Bandon Biota have created a framework for an agreement to exchange a 280 acre portion of 878-acre Bandon State Natural Area in trade for:

  • 111 acres of property next to the Natural Area.
  • 97 acres on Coquille Spit north of Bandon.
  • As much as $2.95 million in cash, part of which helps match a grant to acquire 10 acres of Whale Cove in Lincoln County, and part of it would purchase 6,100 acres of the Grouse Mountain property in Grant County for use as a future state park.
  • $300,000 work of gorse control in Coos and Curry counties.”
Bandon Property Boundaries  courtesy of the Oregon Coastal Alliance

Bandon Property Boundaries
courtesy of the Oregon Coastal Alliance

Public meetings were held in Bandon and Mt. Vernon in mid-August, and 35 written comments have been posted online. Of those written comments, 12 were in favor of the deal (mostly from Bandon), 22 against and one suggested a different approach entirely.

Yeses cited mostly economic advantages (jobs and tourist dollars) and Mr’s Keiser’s conservation record at his other Bandon golf courses. (Also it was pointed out that few Bandon residents aren’t receptive to gorse removal help wherever it comes from.)

Gorse Removal in BSNA courtesy of oregonlive

Gorse Removal in BSNA
courtesy of oregonlive

The 22 Nos were a surprising coalition. There were parkland preservationists (mostly from the south coast), who lamented the loss of unique public coastal habitat, and questioned both the swap’s legality based on Department of Interior stipulations on the land which was given to the state in the late 60s, and the precedent this swap would set for the whole Oregon park system. They were joined by a vocal group of Grant County (site of Grouse Mountain) ranchers, farmers and elected officials who don’t want any more public land in their county, period. Nor were they pleased to have no opportunity for a public meeting or discussion in their neck of the woods.

The earliest State Parks Commissioners could decide is November. For more info and to read all the comments see: http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/pages/commission-bandon.aspx.

Updates to continue.

 

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Although quite wild in appearance, if you look closely at the “native” vegetation here along the Southern Oregon coast you’ll be reading a graphic tale of human impact on our coastal ecosystem. From the steep beach foredunes, to neighborhood yards and beyond, highly invasive introduced species have come to symbolize our local plant life.

Beach Grass © AME

Beach Grass
© AME

At the shoreline, European beach grass forms stunningly beautiful waves of green directly at the beach’s edge. But beach grass, a deeply rhizomed dune stabilizer, intentionally planted in the 30s to foster more agricultural land inland, has ended up forming the steep foredunes which have come to characterize the Southern Oregon coast today.

Armenian Blackberry © SRE

Blackberry Amid the Gorse
© SRE

Tangles of Armenian (Himalayan) blackberry first noted in Oregon in 1922 line our roads and cover our hillsides and are considered by the state to be the most noxious and invasive weed in Western Oregon. There is no approved biological agent to control it. In our yard, we cut it back or periodically “weed it out” by hand but it quickly returns from its nightmarishly long and tenacious roots.

Then there is Scotch broom, beautiful but invasive, which was introduced as a garden ornamental by early European settlers to the Pacific Coast. What to do? Dig it up, cut it back. Watch for its recurrence. Repeat.

Perhaps at the top of the most noxious list is broom’s cousin gorse, a spiny yellow-flowered shrub which forms almost impenetrable barriers up to 15 feet high. This weed is particularly noteworthy around nearby Bandon, and is said to have been introduced by founder Lord George Bennett who brought it over from the old country Eire. Not only did he gift the town gorse, he also named Bandon after his home town in County Cork. You can read more about gorse’s historical impact on Bandon here: http://www.offbeatoregon.com/H1011d-bandon-founder-favorite-plant-destroyed-his-town.html.

Gorse© SRE

Scotch Broom © SRE

Of course these hardy species greatly outcompete indigenous flora, many of which have become extremely rare. And getting rid of the pesky invaders has proved extremely difficult, labor intensive and costly.

In fact so costly that just this week the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission has begun to consider a proposal to trade land in the Bandon State Natural Area to a golf development company, Bandon Biota, in exchange for $300,000 for gorse removal in nearby parks as well as money to purchase other land for future park development. A proposal worth keeping tabs on.

For more info on the State Parks proposal for Bandon State Natural Area see: http://www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2013/07/oregon_state_parks_shifts_meet.html

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