MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
Monday, June 1, 2015
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room.
Councilor Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Marsh, and Seffinger were present.
1. Public Input
Louise Shawkat/870 Cambridge Street/
Requested that Council continued the dialogue regarding the installation of a solar park. A solar park would provide independence from the current utility company. New developments in the power sector were a result of the falling costs of solar generated electricity. Solar parks were now present in sports stadiums, parking lots, landfills, deserts, and around the world due to the cost decline of photovoltaic (PV) panels. Some homeowners in Ashland did not have the right rooftop conditions or the financial resources to purchase panels and solar was not a viable option for renters. These individuals could have a solar option through a shared PV project managed and owned by the City, or a non-profit or business venture. Solar was competitive, easy to install, and had a delivery cost that was less than conventional energy sources. Solar power would also reduce green house gases.
2. Look Ahead review
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead.
3. Discussion of support for expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
Dave Willis, the coordinator for the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council introduced Dr. Michael Parker, the aquatic biologist with the Southern Oregon University (SOU) Biology Department, Pepper Trail, the ornithologist for the US Fish and Wildlife Forensics Lab, and Brian Almquist, former Ashland city administrator.
Mr. Almquist read from a letter he submitted into the record that outlined the City Council’s involvement with the Cascade-Siskiyou monument area and stated this was a unique opportunity during the closing months of President Obama’s administration to expand areas around the monument that should have been included earlier.
Mr. Willis went on to explain the Cascade-Siskiyou Monument was the only monument established to protect biodiversity. Since 2000, development and commodity extraction made the monument more of an island. In January 2011, they gathered fifteen local scientists together who unanimously agreed the current monument boundaries were not adequate to protect what the monument proclamation intended and recommended expanding the monument. The Cascade-Siskiyou was a scientific interest monument. He noted economic benefits the community would receive living near protected land.
Dr. Parker was a member of the science team that wrote the 2011 report. Achieving conservation goals for landscape required considering watershed boundaries that the original monument did not include. The location of the monument did include headwater streams of two major river systems in the area, the Klamath River and Rogue River Bowl. The majority of the upper headwaters of the Bear Creek drainage were within the boundaries of the monument as well and expansion would further benefit the Bear Creek drainage. The resolution included language that protected water quality and quantity in the monument. He addressed Jenny Creek and Fall Creek to the east side of the monument noting that Jenny Creek flowed into and out of monument at several places. Major tributaries, Johnson Creek and Fall Creek were not included in the monument and the monument contained only a portion of the Jenny Creek drainage. The state border with California truncated the Klamath River ridges portion to the south. State borders jeopardized the integrity of the entire watershed. Expanding the monument would buffer the watershed from future environmental extremes as well as protect the bio-diversity in all of the watersheds that were unique to each portion.
Mr. Trail addressed the terrestrial zones. The expansion would include the rogue valley foothills, Grizzly Peak area, and Southern Cascades. The original proclamation did not mention climate change. The Rogue Valley was already experiencing the affects of climate change through decreased snowpack and higher temperatures. This was an opportunity to bring former ranch land into the monument and protect them.
Mr. Willis explained that Samson Creek was former ranch land recently purchased by an individual who wanted it added to the expanded monument. The original monument was roughly 53,000 acres and was now over 62,000 acres. Any private land within the monument that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acquired would automatically become part of the monument. The Land and Water Conservation fund could spend $900,000 a year to purchase land.
There was no impact of monument expansion on privately owned land. Possible arguments against expanding the monument could include the prohibition of commercial timber sales and that grazing cattle was incompatible with protecting the monument. Special legislation in 2009 allowed grazing ranchers to donate their lease to BLM and receive payment from the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council to do so. To date, 98% of the land within the monument was cattle free. Another potential argument against the expansion was motorized vehicles were not allowed off designated roads in the monument.
Grazing cattle increased the presence of Ecoli. The sensitive headwater areas were often trampled causing a decline in the quantity and quality of water. Congress and the President were the only entities who could establish monuments and determine the boundaries. Senator Wyden’s proposal for a narrow expansion, S132, included protective designations that could provide the President’s administration building blocks to assemble and expand the monument area. Council was the first group the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council had met with to discuss expanding the monument.
The Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion was the most botanically diverse coniferous forest in North America. Expansion to the North Cascades would not affect valid existing water rights through the Talent Irrigation District (TID).
Council agreed to support expanding the monument and directed staff to bring a resolution supporting the expansion to a future Council meeting.
4. Conservation Commission carbon pricing legislation support resolution
Conservation Commissioner Mark Weir explained a number of carbon bills were moving through the Oregon state House of Representatives and Senate that prompted the Conservation Commission to bring a resolution supporting carbon pricing legislation to Council for direction. Additionally, House Bill (HB) 3470 currently was moving its way through the Rules Committee and would go to the House Committee on Ways and Means soon. Representative Peter Buckley co-sponsored the bill and chaired the Ways and Means Committee so HB 3470 would move through that committee quickly. There were four weeks left in the Oregon legislative process. If the City wanted to support HB 3470 or a resolution on carbon pricing it needed to happen soon. The draft resolution did not directly link to HB 3470 and would support other types of carbon pricing.
Council discussed the resolution, timing, and language changes. Mayor Stromberg would call Representative Wyden and Senator Bates expressing Ashland’s support of HB 3470 and send a letter stating the same to Representative Wyden’s office. Council would hold off on drafting the carbon pricing resolution for the time being.
Meeting adjourned at 6:34 p.m.
Assistant to the City Recorder