Attending: Dwayne Stevenson, Wynn Cudmore, Roy Hari, Nick McDonough, John Brandt, Jim Sears, Jeff Bickford, Matt Thorburn, Orville Rice, Susan Morre, Skye Balkwill, and Ed Cavaille
Recorder: Jolene Parker
INTRODUCE JIM SEARS AND JEFF BICKFORD - Jim & Jeff: Jim introduced himself to the Commissioners and gave some background on his career, which includes working for Marion County since 1981. He began his career with the county with Public Works. In 1983, Public Works (PW) took over the Solid Waste (SW) division, but in 1986, the Board of Commissioners (BOC) decided to split the 2 departments and asked Jim to be the director of SW. When Bob Hansen retired as director of PW, the BOC decided to recombine the 2 departments, and asked Jim to be the director. When this merging took place, SW became a division of PW, and was renamed Environmental Services (ES). The Parks program, previously a division of PW, is now a section within the ES division. Jeff Bickford, the ES Manager, supervises parks staff. Jeff has been with the county since 1990 and is an environmental engineer. Jim said with he and Jeff being new, they appreciate all the assistance that is given to them and welcomes feedback from the Parks Commission. Jim said he and Jeff work with the Solid Waste Advisory Council, comprised of 20 people. One of the processes they do is to brainstorm about what the focus should be and hopes to bring that process to the commission. He said he hoped we could hold a brainstorming meeting in the future.
Matt said the by-laws have a set meeting in January, and he suggested we meet in January to get back on track. Dwayne asked if we would be meeting 2-3 times a year, or just once. Matt said that would depend on the group, and suggested we put this to a vote. Jim said this could also depend on what the group is working on (i.e., a particular project or substantive issue). Susan added there might also be times this group will want to meet on site to discuss relative issues.
GENERAL PARKS UPDATE – Orville: Orville gave the group an update on what has been going on with the Parks program (see update). Orville said one problem the department has had is with someone stealing signs at Aumsville Ponds, which has necessitated videotaping this site. Dwayne asked if there is still a plan to have a camp host at Aumsville Ponds. Orville said it would be a very expensive undertaking, with electricity, water, and re-zoning costs. He said at this time a security company has been hired to open and close the gate each day (it’s closed each evening at dusk). Susan asked if there was a volunteer at any other park. Orville said there is, and it wouldn’t be a problem to find someone to volunteer as a park host, but it would be a long, expensive process. Matt said the intent of having a camp host was a security issue, and this issue has been addressed by hiring the security company to open and close the park. Orville gave some background on the project to build a half-court basketball court at Labish Village Park. A young boy, who is a student at Lake Labish School, wrote a letter to the Board of Commissioners (BOC) requesting a basketball court be built at Labish Village Park for area youth to have a recreation area. At that point, the BOC requested that PW became involved. The department worked with Eleanor Miller, director of the Child Health Initiative (CHI), who was able to acquire donations from local businesses, which combined with the department’s efforts, made it possible for the basketball court to be built.
Orville said the volunteer time is at 1,700 hours. This includes Eagle Scouts and volunteers, Dwayne asked about camping at Bear Creek Park on North Fork. Orville said the department is still reviewing this, but one issue to solve is the collection of fees. Dwayne said his recollection is that BLM would collect the fees. Orville said he would look into this.
RESULTS OF PARKS FACILITIES INVENTORY PROCESS – Skye: Skye Balkwill introduced himself to the group and said he is an environmental engineering student at OSU, and is working for PW as an Intern this summer. One of his first projects was to put together a current inventory of what Parks has to offer, in regards to facilities. The driving factor behind this is a federal database collecting info on all state, federal, local and private parks in order to provide resource opportunities for parks. He reviewed a spreadsheet that details the parks inventory that needs repair. He said he and Orville used this as a tool to inventory all the parks. Matt said this is early in the development of this program, but he sees using this in the future as a way of attaching costs to maintenance needs, and then using that information to pursue grants and budget for those items that are in the direst need. Wynn asked if there is a projected life expectancy of facilities at each park. Skye said this information is available on SCORP’s website: http://www.prd.state.or.us/scorp.php Dwayne asked about vandalism at Spongs Landing. Orville said it has decreased. Matt said this spreadsheet information might be a good tool to publish on the web. Dwayne said he thought it would only be helpful if it showed the percentages of total inventory. Skye said it was possible to get all that info on the web, but it would include 13-14 spreadsheets. The commissioners said they would like a copy of the spreadsheet packet. Wynn asked if the county could get federal money for these projects. Matt said the department can only apply through the state and have funds awarded, but can’t apply directly to the federal government. John asked if this project is under a state membership. Skye said it is a federal project, put out at the state level.
LAND ACQUISITION PROJECTS UPDATE – Matt:Matt said there are three primary properties the department has been looking to acquire: Lake Labish, Koenig Property, and Browns Island. Matt said there have been public meetings regarding acquiring Lake Labish and we have received several letters of support. He said the agricultural community has had reservations because this is farmland, which would now be identified as wetland. He said experts have been brought in to shape this process and address farmers concerns. He said if and/or when we acquire land in the Lake Labish basin, it is vital we include them in the process. He said he thought through intelligent planning, we could address their concerns. Dwayne asked if there is any concern about wash-off of chemicals from Ag-land onto the wetlands. He said he suspects we will need to establish a buffer area, with reduced chemical inputs, which buffers the wetland area. It would also buffer their area from our “weeds,” which could include native plants. Susan said in terms of chemical washouts, it would give us an opportunity to improve water quality by using native plants to filter out agriculture chemicals coming from adjacent farmland. Matt said he’s aware there are water quality issues including bacteria, temperature, and possibly chemicals. He said this is an area is also prone to flooding. John asked if we are acquiring the land or conservation easements on the Lake Labish project. Matt said the grants we are receiving are for conservation easements. These easements are for public use for perpetuity. There was discussion regarding the acquisition of the property and Nick said this would probably be done through a land exchange, with a market study. Jim said staff had worked on this, establishing the market study. Matt said we would probably have to go through a third party appraisal. The survey will be done next week. The Public Hearing regarding this is being held next week before the Board of Commissioners. Matt said another reason the county is working with the Forest Service on this is funding. Funds can be given to the USFS for this type of property. He said the status is that we have received approval from the Senate Appropriations Committee, but not from the House. He said he is unsure how this will look or how it will be resolved. The estimated value of this property is $500,000. He said in the future he thought we would be pursuing other grant funds, and with the current grants that serves as a viable match.
With the Labish project, since it is a wetland project, there is the potential of getting mitigation credits. The department, with their roads development projects, sometimes impact a wetland. Since we acquiring the conservation easement on this land, the department will have the potential for a fair bit of money from the sale of wetland mitigation credits to other agencies. It has very good potential. County staff members have met with BLM, ODOT and the City of Salem, and all are ready to move ahead. Matt said we need to proceed cautiously and address the concerns of others involved.
Dwayne asked about the Little Pudding Delta, and if the county is still pursuing this property. Matt said there were approximately 15 pieces of land identified as possible pursuits, and in regards to this property, there has not been the funds to pursue acquisition. The landowner has been intermittently interested, but the decision was made to pursue the current properties (Labish, Koenig, and Browns Island). This decision was made partly because of the funding involved, but also because of the liability of stretching the parks budget too tight. He said the opportunity or interest in acquiring this other properties hasn’t been eliminated, but the county is not aggressively pursuing them at this time.
Matt said the Koenig Property was another property that looked very good, and is located near Wiseman Island. He said the Koenig’s are now interested in selling the entire property instead of the portion in which the county is interested. The Trust for Public Land has been working with the owners and will stay in touch if they change their minds. The entire property is 280 acres, and we are interested in approximately 150 acres. He said it is a sensitive process and the county isn’t pushing for a resolution.
Matt said Browns Island is a great opportunity, particularly because there is no reluctance by the landowner. (It is owned by Environmental Services [formerly Solid Waste], a division of PW.) This property is home to a closed landfill, a demolition landfill, and a composition facility. The land consists of 60 acres, located right on the Willamette River and is immediately adjacent to Salem’s Minto-Brown Island Park. It is effectively isolated from the other facilities, and hosts a CRP restoration project. SW has done restoration of the land. It is the county’s intent to coordinate with the City of Salem to provide access from their park trails to this area. SW worked with the Conservation Reserve Program, and planted 40,000-50,000 trees two years ago, as a volunteer project. Matt said this is a good site and using it as a park site adds 60 acres to the Parks program.
FUNDING EFFORTS – Matt: Matt discussed the department’s funding efforts, which include: Labish$650,000 Title III funds, still approved by Board of Commissioners $500,000 Interiors Appropriation, (sale of Detroit property) still pending $600,000 - 900,000 mitigation funding potential with City of Salem and ODOT Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board – DU and MC Parks will submit an application to OWEB for acquisition and restoration funding this fall. North American Wetlands Conservation Act – DU and MC Parks will submit an application to NAWCA for acquisition and restoration funding next March.
$500,000 Interiors Appropriation, (sale of Detroit property) still pending $600,000 - 900,000 mitigation funding potential with City of Salem and ODOT
$600,000 - 900,000 mitigation funding potential with City of Salem and ODOT
Aumsville and BonesteeleVideo Lottery – MC Parks received $35,000 for weeding and native plant restoration at Aumsville Ponds and Bonesteele Park. Partners in Fish and Wildlife – MC Parks submitted a request for $30,000 to the USFWS Partners program. The money would be applied to native habitat restoration at Bonesteele. Approval of those funds is pending. Congressional appropriation – MC Parks is working with our federal lobbyists to secure $50,000 (from Agriculture bill) in funding for our native seed program. Approval of these funds is pending.
Miscellaneous fundingMid-Valley Partnership Board - $133,000 to update the MC Parks and City of Keizer parks master plans and find areas to collaborate on regional parks projects between Salem/Keizer/MC. Title II – $10,000 - 20,000 – for various infrastructure improvements (e.g., new staircase for Bear Creek park). Matt doesn’t believe this will be a funding priority for this program.
LAMINATED ROOT ROT (PORIA) SALVAGE HARVEST – Orville: Orville discussed a problem we have in our Parks, which is laminated root rot (Poria). We plan to fall the trees that are affected with this fungus, and salvage what timber we can. He said this isn’t a situation that can be ignored, and it necessitates cutting down the trees. Orville said the fungus lives in the ground for 40 years and spreads, so if we have don’t do something it will spread to other land.
Orville asked if anyone has any thoughts or concerns. Matt asked how many trees this has affected. Orville said this would affect 50-75 trees. It is necessary to find a ring of healthy trees around the infected trees, cut them and create a border. Susan said we also plan to replant the area with Poria-resistant native species. Orville said one of his concerns is public outcry, but we wouldn’t be cutting down the trees if they were healthy. Matt said we haven’t had a meeting with local stakeholders, but plan to in the future. He said the plan is to get groups of people together that are affected and address this issue, but doesn’t anticipate much public outcry. Dwayne suggested writing up an educational piece on this for the Statesman Journal.
VANDALISM AND OTHER MAINTENANCE ISSUES – Orville: Orville said we have lost 5 picnic tables in our parks, replaced the swings that were stolen at Scotts Mills Park, and are still dealing with people defecating and urinating on the floors of the restrooms. People discussed possible options. Ed commented that this is also going on at North Fork and Salmon parks. There has also been a problem with people driving their vehicles and causing turf damage at Scotts Mills and Santana parks, and that people are dumping home garbage at Bonesteele, Evergreen Wayside, Joryville, and Aumsville Ponds parks. There is also been an increase in graffiti at Salmon Falls, Santana, Spongs Landing, and Joryville parks. Orville said parks personnel has been mowing, cleaning restrooms, and picking up trash, including 460 pounds of garbage in one day at Spongs Landing. The program has utilized inmate labor to remove 3,600 pounds of scotch broom and to clear 1/8 of a mile of trails at Aumsville Ponds. We have also applied for a grant to construct a stairway at Bear Creek Park.
OTHER: John told the group the City of Stayton and Trust for Public Land will be meeting tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Stayton City Hall. He said if anyone would like to attend, this would be a very informational process. John said this discussion relates to a piece of property that would give 4-5 riverfront miles for the public use.
At this point, the meeting was adjourned and the group took a tour of Aumsville Ponds and Bonesteele parks.