The river basin everyone loves has been the focus of a protracted legislative battle, which ended Monday. photo by Jim Cornelius
The river basin everyone loves has been the focus of a protracted legislative battle, which ended Monday. photo by Jim Cornelius
The Oregon House of Representatives reversed course Monday, June 22 and passed House Bill 3298, declaring the Metolius Basin an Area of Critical Statewide Concern.

The bill, which would block large-scale development in the basin, failed on Tuesday, June 16, by one vote. A procedural maneuver allowed reconsideration of the vote, which passed Monday by a 31-28 margin, after Rep. Larry Galizio, D-Tigard changed his vote.

According to The Oregonian, Galizio cited a "convincing" phone call from Governor Ted Kulongoski, who has pushed for the designation, and "an outpouring of letters and other contacts from the public."

In an e-mail bulletin, Central Oregon LandWatch [Executive] Director Erik Kancler said, "This is truly a remarkable and historic achievement, one for the history books indeed."

The designation appears to spell the end of the line for The Metolian, an "eco-community," planned by Camp Sherman resident and developer Shane Lundgren and his partner Jim Kean of Portland.

Lundgren was not immediately available for comment.

Lobbyist for The Metolian, Hasina Squires, said she has spoken to Kean and "obviously, he is very disappointed."

Squires told The Nugget that the legislation reduces development rights down to two lots (zoning prior to Jefferson County destination resort designation) and "absolutely" kills the development.

She said that other legislation allowing transfer of development rights (HB 2228) makes it "incredibly unlikely" that the developers will create an "eco-community" elsewhere in Oregon.

Squires said there is no recourse for the developers.

"The legislature has usurped the entire judicial system," she said. "It sets a very bad precedent for the State of Oregon," allowing the legislature to step in to reverse the actions of local land use governing bodies.

Local activists Tom and Linda Davis are overjoyed at the outcome.

"I am absolutely elated," Tom Davis said on Monday. "This is the best day I've had in years. It's a super day."

Linda Davis played a key role in the complicated legal and legislative actions that resulted in Monday's declaration. Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, who proposed the legislation, credits her with identifying in her testimony at a hearing the Area of Critical State Concern as an appropriate vehicle for protecting the Metolius from development.

"He heard that and ran with it," Davis said.

She, too, is very happy with the outcome.

"We're just thrilled to death," she said.