City maps out wetlands, wildlife habitat

Protection is key with new development in Urban Growth Boundary

The City of Hood River is expanding and officials are seeking to protect natural resources from development.

An open house to explain the upcoming inventory of wetland, riparian corridor and upland wildlife habitat will be from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday at the city fire hall, 1785 Meyer Parkway. The fire hall is located next to the Hood River pool, on May and 18th streets.

Information will be provided on the project that is being undertaken by the city, with technical expertise provided by Wetland Consulting, a Portland-based environmental/planning consulting firm.

“It’s timely to do this now because we’re having so much in-fill development in the Urban Growth Boundary that the open space areas are slowly going away and we want to protect them for future use,” said Cindy Walbridge, city planning director.

City staff, employees from the Oregon Division of State Lands, and the project consultant will be available at the Dec. 3 forum. These officials will outline opportunities for public involvement during the inventory, explain methods used to gather data, and present a schedule and map of potential sites.

Jennifer Donnelly, city senior planner and project manager, said the wetland, riparian and habitat list will be used to update the city’s comprehensive land-use plan and zoning code to protect fish and land wildlife habitat, improve water quality and better manage stormwater runoff. According to Donnelly, the inventory will also help both the city and property owners meet the requirements of federal and state environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and the Oregon Removal-Fill Law.

“With this mapping we’ll know where the resources are so we can better figure out how to help developers with a proposal,” said Donnelly.

The upcoming work will be paid with a $30,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development. Last week, more than 300 letters were sent out to landowners within the city limits and Urban Growth Boundary who could have their property affected by protection measures adopted at a later date. Property owners were also asked to give permission for officials to walk across their land and briefly study the vegetation and soils.

To grant that approval, property holders were asked to sign a postcard enclosed with the letter and mail it back to the city by Dec. 6 or bring it to the public information workshop.

Donnelly said all affected property owners will also receive a notice for a second meeting in the spring when the preliminary results of the inventory are ready for viewing.

Once the mapping is complete, the city will develop a sensitive site and riparian corridor overlay zone and develop protective setbacks and sensitive development standards within those borders.

For more information on the open house or wetland inventory call Donnelly at 387-5224.

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