Victory for Farmland, Water and Salmon!
Appeals Board Ruling Protects High-Value Farmland, Clean Water, and Salmon Habitat in the Lower Columbia.
On May 9, 2022 Columbia County’s effort to rezone hundreds of acres at Port Westward was overturned by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals for the third time. Since 2013, Crag has worked with Columbia Riverkeeper, 1000 Friends of Oregon and local farmers to challenge the Port of Columbia County’s attempt to rezone farmland for industrial use.
The decision by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) maintains protections for 837 acres of high-value farmland in the midst of prime salmon habitat.
“Columbia County Commissioners erred badly in rezoning Port Westward. The land they seek to industrialize has been farmed for generations, providing unique and deep soils that sustain the production of food and other crops that go far beyond this community, from u-pick blueberries to high-quality mint and cattle,” said Mike Seely, mint farmer at Port Westward. “LUBA’s decision affirms that Oregon land use laws protect farmland, and that will improve our local economy.”
Local farmers, clean water advocates, and uprail communities concerned about long trains bisecting Columbia County cities and towns remain adamant that the Port Westward area is better suited to agriculture, forestry, and fisheries than industrialization.
“LUBA agreed with Columbia Riverkeeper and 1000 Friends on all of the issues we raised and found that the County failed to consider the important natural resources in the area, failed to adequately evaluate the sensitive agricultural uses (specifically, mint farming) at Port Westward, and failed to analyze the scale of the potential adverse impacts of the proposed industrial uses on the surrounding area.”
Over 1,000 people—including local farmers, business owners, and people that live along the rail lines to the site—urged the Columbia County Board of Commissioners to reject the rezone proposal. Today’s LUBA decision affirms that community sentiment.
“Again and again, community members have come together to protect the Lower Columbia River’s clean water, salmon and other fish, and sustainable jobs.”
“The decision is a recognition of the importance of Oregon’s land use laws – to protect our irreplaceable farm lands, especially in the face of a changing climate.”
Since 2013, we have represented Columbia Riverkeeper in preventing the rezoning of Port Westward’s farmland. Columbia Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean.
1000 Friends of Oregon joined Columbia Riverkeeper in the effort to protect Port Westward in 2017 and Crag represented 1000 Friends in this latest legal challenge. 1000 Friends’ mission is working with Oregonians to enhance our quality of life by building livable urban and rural communities, protecting family farms and forests, and conserving natural areas.
Together, we are committed to preserving the farmland of Port Westward, maintaining the water quality of the Columbia River, and defending Governor McCall’s land use legacy.