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Sweet Home, Oregon
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June 13, 2012     The New Era Paper
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June 13, 2012
 

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- June 13. 2012 VouR COMMUNITV Page 5 From page 1 she said. Participants represented the U.S. Forest Service, the Governor's Office, various state agencies deal- ing with the environment, forestry and recreation. Linn County, Sweet Home, Oregon State University, the University of Oregon. the Cascades West Council of Governments. and Portland State University-based Oregon Solutions, a program that helps communities build collabo- ration to solve problems. Steve Bryant, former Albany planning director and city manag- er. now a project manager for Or- egon Solutions. said the program, which is also connected with the governor's office, seeks to connect communities with state agencies in ways that will help all the players achieve the same goals. "We wanted to bring in the governor's staff and say, 'What is going on in Sweet Home? What do you think?'" he said. Sweet Home City Manager Craig Martin outlined the city's 2020 Vision, a strategic plan that has been revised over time. The plan projects a destina- tion community with a diversified. healthy, resilient economy that can absorb fluctuations from external forces, with strong entrepreneurial ~pirit that plays out in numerous small businesses employing 20-30 people as the foundation of local economy. "These new and expanded businesses are compatible with the beauty and purity of our riv- ers. lakes, forests and air," he said. "Visitors and prospective busi- nesses are drawn to Sweet Home's Cascades setting, enjoying the full range of high-quality restaurants and motels. Events such as the Oregon Jamboree have grown and yield a substantial financial return to our community. A well-designed amphitheater and convention cen- ter provide siting for the Jamboree, conferences, fairs, rodeo, trade shows and retreats." The city has been a primary player in early talks about estab- lishing an All-Lands approach to the Cool Soda. Cascadia Cave and forest products economy establish- ment projects. Martin said the response to the city's strategic plan was enthusias- tic. "Everybody was going, "right on, this thing is right on." he said. pointing out that the vision, though created in 1993, has been "updated and validated" over the years. He said the projects being con- templated by the group would pro- duce "multiple benefits" for Sweet Home tourism playing an increas- ing role in the local economy, the harvesting and processing of forest products, and more - such as a way to engage the local youth in their environment, particularly with the four-dav school week beginning in the fall. "The concept like this seen elsewhere provides an opportunity for education and stewardship and getting the youth involved in ac- tivities centering around the forest - whether it be learning job skills or running a small micro-enterprise or business." he said. Glick said the "All Lands" approach has been backed, heav- ily by the Secretary of Agriculture and "we're taking that statement to meeti continue Meetings are scheduled through October to enable the public to learn and comment about the joint effort between the Sweet Home Ranger Dis- trict, Cascade Timber COn- suiting and the Santiam Wa- tershed Council to develop a plan for some 10.000 acres of public and privately owned forest in the Cool Soda area. The cooperative effort seeks to lower stream temper- ature and improve big game habitat, while creating more family wage jobs in the com- munity. The effort is seen as a possible precursor to other such projects in the area, if it is successful. The next meetings will be . on Thursday, June 14, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Sweet home Ranger District and from 7 to 9 p.m. at Sweet Home Police Department. The meetings will include an overview of the planning area and provide participants with a chance to discuss the key benefits they associate with it. Topics will be the exist- ing conditions in the area, what the key benefits are and identifying problems associ- ated with those benefits, and what's important for the area. More meetings are sched- uled, on Aug. 7 and Aug. 21, at the same times and loca- tions; for further discuss, fop lowed by a final event at San- key Park on Oct. 20. Two meetings are being held each day to make it easi- er for interested individuals to attend. For more information, contact the Sweet Home District Office at (541) 367-5168 or e-mail Anita Leach at agleach@ fs,fed.us. the ground level right here in the ranger district." She said the approach is a pro- cess "that recognizes the public benefits as well as forest threats across boundaries and are best ad- dressed through integrated partner- ships and infrastructure (markets. resource professionals and infor- mation)." The two projects most promi- nently on the drawing board fight now are Cool Soda and Cascadia Ca~e The cave drew the most atten- tion at Thursday's meeting. Ac- cording to Glick. the county has become the lead agency in an ef- fort to procure a U.S. Forest Ser- vice grant to transfer the cave. and a surrounding'55 acres of land di- rectly east of Cascadia State Park. along the South Santiam River. to public ownership. County Commissioner Will Tucker said he's particularly con- vinced that it's time to ensure that the cave. an ancient site where the Photos by Scott Swanson Steve Bryant, top left, a project manager for Oregon Solutions, speaks to participants at a meeting last week to discuss using an "All Lands" approach tO advance cultural, environmental and economic efforts in the Sweet Home-area. Calapuya Indians once congregat- ed. be protected, ideally through a land swap between the Hill Family interests managed by Cascade Tim- ber Consulting, and. preferably, Linn County Parks Department. He said the three native Amer- ican nations that trace their roots back to the Calapuya tribes, which once inhabited the local area are now situated on three different res- ervations, and have not been able to agree on how to handle the cave. Plus, Hill Family members, who make up to $12 million annually each off the forest resources in the area. need to be given enough of an economic incentive that they will want to buy into the ide~, be said. "They've talked about devel- oping a hotel there." he said. "Oregon Solutions can help," he said. noting that permitting and other issues remain to be resolved before such a swap could occur. "I've been after that cave for dozens of years." he said. "I can tell you I will find a way to bring that cave into public ownership." He noted other "'assets" that Linn County needs to develop - the Santiam Wagon Road - "one of the best off-road bicycle experi- ences you could want" and a great opportunity for equestrians as well. he said. Others are the Cool Soda area and the some 450 acres fore- closed by the county from West- ern States Land Reliance Trust in Sweet Home that borders the South Santiam River. Glick said progress is being made but nothing is sure. "This is all a possibility. There is nothing in writing," she said. "Who knows if everything will work? But something everyone seems to agree on is the need to get an important cultural heritage site into public ownership." Martin said that he's seeing "increased energy" that makes him optimistic that projects like the Cascadia Cave. the redevelopment of the WSLRT property could be- come realities and, eventually, they could be linked with River Bend County Park and the Foster Lake Trail. "We have this natural opportu- nity to link a bt of thes~ current fa- cilities together and create a com- munity forest corridor." he said. "It takes time. Individuals and organizations and the community in general have to be ready to em- brace some of these ideas. You've got to look at these'things from the Sweet Home District Ranger Cindy Glick, third from left, speaks to a group of representatives from a wide range of government and nonprofit agencies during a tour of the Moose Creek drainage area.. long-haul perspective. We may not be able to do it today, or tomorrow, but we may be able to do it next year." Bryant and Pete Dalke, also a project manager for Oregon Solu- tions, said that collaboration is in- creasingly recognized as a key to making things happen around the state, particularly in the forests. "What we're realizing as Or- egonians is maybe we need to work more closely with our federal part- ners." Dalke said. He cited several examples, most from eastern Or- egon where, he said. environmen- talists .and local citizens have been particularly willing to work togeth- er to figure out how to solve prob- lems and build programs involving their forests. "The landscapes you have here are fraught with conflicts, so you don't have the scale here that you have in Eastern Oregon, where there are tens of thousands of acres. He cited the example of a proj- ect in the Applegate Valley in the Southern Oregon Siskiyou Moun- tains, where a community-based plan is being developed, in con- junction with private landowners and the BLM. He said Oregon Solutions is helping the players get organized and determine who will be collabo- rating in the effort. Several participants at the meeting suggested that the group's aims need to be organized in a manageable portions. "A lot of things have been talked about here." said Gover- nor's Regional Solutions Coordi- nator Bobby Lee. "What I think I'm hearing is that you are trying to establish a sustainable community from an economic and ecological standpoint. You can go only so far. You need to break those down. There are a lot of turf issues." Bryant said later that if the governor assigns Oregon Solutions to work with the local players, it will help them organize and de- termine who is going to play what role. "What impresses me about Sweet Home and the players I've met are that a lot of people have been involved with this for some time," he said. "There's a real can- do spirit. These people are pointed in the same direction. We've rec- ognized a lot of needs in Sweet Home, given what the community has gone through with the econom- ic cycles. The stars now seem to be aligned." He said he's optimistic that the effort can move forward. "All we're saying here is that there are real opportunities for collaboration to improve the lo- cal economy, hunting and fishing, and focus on environmental issues that will be important to the wa- tershedl We can make the forest more economical for the commu- nity. We can find common areas of agreement that have benefit for the economy." He said the next step is for the governor to decide that the project is qualified for Oregon Solutions' assistance and issue a directive to that end, then assign individuals to lead the effort - likely people who are not currently major players. If all goes well, those steps would be completed this summer. "I'm fairly optimistic," Bryant said.