(October 12, 2016) – Traditional "Large Lot Zoning" is "Greener" than "Smart Growth" within Urban Growth Boundaries . . . Copyright 2009 – 2016 . . . Tom Lane . . . Photographing California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.
Above: Ranch at South Lake Tahoe, California, near the Airport south of town.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, it was “live and let live” in many “hippie” areas around the US. People painted their homes whatever color they wanted to, they grew large vegetable gardens, they road mountain bikes over cliffs, and Impact Fees for remodeling your house were much less common.
However, as baby boomers aged in the 1980’s and 1990’s, they turned with anger on previous generations, for practices that they viewed as “bad for the environment,” such as clearcutting, urban sprawl, and building freeways. Today, baby boomers employed at the US Forest Service and related agencies are hiring college graduates to pass even more land use laws every year, telling you and I what we can and cannot do with our land, with regulations such as smart growth and urban growth boundaries.
I received the job announcement below by email for a “rural landscape scientist.” The ideal candidate has a masters in the biological sciences, and is essentially responsible for telling rural landowners in Montana what to do with their land.
This is very revealing of the extent of how much college graduates are controlling the rest of us, using environmental principles taught by baby boomer professors.
As for my generations (X and Y), I don’t know if we’ll ever return to the “live and let live days.” What I can tell you is that if I had an organic farm (and, that is one of my interests), I wouldn’t want the government fining me for excess soil runoff and noxious weeds. And, if I owned a health food store, I wouldn’t want the government coming into my store, guns drawn, because I was selling raw milk, and injectable B vitamins.
And, I certainly wouldn’t want to pay Impact Fees to remodel an old farmhouse (for an organic farm). And, mountain biking friends wouldn’t want to be fined by the Wilderness Society, USFS, and EPA, because of erosion, mud, and dust restrictions on trails.
I’m a Libertarian environmentalist who opposes most smart growth principles. Conversely, I’m an advocate of tree ordinances to preserve trees during and after home construction, as neighborhood home values increase with lush natural vegetation on every block. Of course, the tree ordinances are administered through neighborhood associations and HOA’s, operating under Democratic processes, never by urban planners, City Councils, and City managers.
One other issue: The Federal Government also has profound affects in altering supply and demand of private natural resources, often driving companies out of business. Recently, (August 2010), lumber mills in Grants Pass and Roseburg, Oregon have announced plans to diminish operations, due to inappropriate free trade and environmental policies, of Presidents Barack Obama and G. W. Bush. As we’ll see below, forest thinning and selective logging help to maintain timber flow into mills. This forest near a residential area in South Lake Tahoe appears to be thinned:
“Cheap subsidized Canadian imports continue to flow into the U.S., further deflating markets, while our government remains unwilling to provide a reasonable or sustainable volume of timber for rural mills and communities,” company officials said.
Even Democrat Oregon Senator Peter DeFazio said:
DeFazio issued a lengthy statement in response to Swanson’s announcement of the closure of its Glendale plant, saying the Obama administration had failed to offer “a meaningful forest management plan to create family-wage jobs and improve forest health.” With only two weeks to go before the end of the fiscal year, the Medford BLM district has sold only about 10 percent of the timber promised by the federal government, DeFazio said.
DeFazio said that both the Bush and Obama administrations also failed to enforce trade agreements that were designed “to reduce imports of heavily subsidized Canadian softwood lumber to Northwest markets.”
“Canada began violating the agreement before the ink of the agreement was dry and the U.S. has responded with little or no enforcement,” he said.
“The Obama Administration’s policies to protect and create jobs in rural southwest Oregon have been total failures. Period,” DeFazio said.
And, of course, Oregon Smart Growth and Oregon’s Urban Growth Boundaries also caused this, by decreasing new construction. The article says:
While a lot of overlapping factors led to the shutdown of the Glendale mill and cut in operations at Roseburg, including the ongoing recession and housing slump, Swanson officials said they laid much of the responsibility at the federal government’s door.
It’s a combination of factors, however, certainly smart growth and urban growth boundaries have reduced lumber demand, as construction has stopped in Oregon. However, housing demand has not changed, as populations increase. Indeed, I explain here and elsewhere on this web site how State Land Commissioner Richard Whitman has denied Bend’s request to expand its urban growth boundary, despite Bend’s rapid population growth of 40% over the past decade.
However, the tragedy for Swanson mills is also from Presidents Bush and Obama failing to restrict timber imports. From an oversimplified perspective, the total US supply of timber has increased, leading to decreasing (deflating) prices for Oregon timber.
What an outrage. Drive through Southwest Oregon timber country between Eugene and Medford, and you’ll see what some call “typical Oregon poverty.” Unemployment rates are up to 16% in some areas, and homeless people are begging all over the place. This area depends on timber and wood products as its #1 industries.
In contrast to Oregon, most areas of the rural US actually are prospering (as shown in this map), because they do not have excessive restrictions on housing development and natural resource extraction.
Overall, it’s a disgrace that the government can’t provide what they promised to local mills, due to their incompetency in stopping excessive Canadian imports. And, the environmental regulations on Oregon timbering are clearly too extensive, given the severe poverty in SW Oregon. Oregon Land Czar Richard Whitman needs to approve the Bend City Manager Eric King’s Urban Growth Boundary extension, to increase the demand for Oregon wood products, and decrease unemployment among Bend construction workers.
I’m not an expert in forestry. Although I do not oppose clearcut logging, because it is economically necessary for rural Oregon, I do know that there are “friendlier” ways to log, such as “selective” logging instead of “clearcut” logging. And, the most important is to thin dead understory trees, that smoking and campfires catch on fire, spreading to the old growth trees above. By not thinning forests is worse than not logging large trees at all. Dead understory trees lead to massive crown fires, that spread to thousands of acres, leading to habitat loss and erosion into streams. These small diameter trees can be chipped into pulp for paper. Dr. Bill Wattenburg, forester and firefighter, and talk host on KGO-AM radio San Francisco, describes the tragedy of large crown fires here. This article offers further insights: “Now They Have Burned Loss Alamos.”
Finally, here’s the the Missoula annoucement, for the ambiguous job title of “Rural Landscape Scientist” on-line at the Missoula County web site: (http://www.co.missoula.mt.us/hr/employment/job51.htm)
Performs professional level duties in the evaluation, development and implementation of natural resource conservation and enhancement programs and land use policies as they relate to ecosystems in rural Missoula County.
MINIMUM QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS:
Requires Masters of Science degree related to Wildlife Biology, Natural Resource Management/Policy, Forestry, or Environmental Studies. Requires two years experience involving biological or social research, data analysis and report writing. Experience in building partnerships with rural landowners and/or community-based organizations desired.
REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLES OF WORK:
Creates and fosters partnerships between County and rural residents as well as state, federal and tribal agencies, to achieve improved natural resource protection/ enhancement. Serves as technical resource to provide technical assistance, information and advice to rural landowners, elected officials, county staff, other professionals, and general public. Reviews proposals for impacts on conservation resources. Provides analysis of relationships between changing development patterns and conservation resources, including environmental constraints.
Evaluates existing and proposed state, federal, tribal and local government biological and ecological projects. Provides advice on research and implementation measures that address resource conservation, growth and development in rural Missoula County and the County’s biological and ecological needs. Charts, maps and quantifies data on land use changes that address connectivity between human land use alterations and water quality, water quantity, wildlife habitat, agricultural/ranch/timber lands and other resources.
Initiates and assists with GIS (ArcView) mapping and analysis of population, census, land use, biological, transportation and other related data sets. Uses software programs to provide analysis of land use change and planning, forestry, agricultural trends and natural resources trends in rural areas. Represents County in selected aspects of natural resource planning and implementation.
Attends and directs meetings, participates in citizen task forces and joint ventures. Makes public presentations. Develops resource materials and conducts training for staff, elected officials, advisory boards and the public. Works with staff to prepare ordinances, regulations, resolutions and planning/resource documents for review and approval by County Commissioners.
Monitors local, state and federal legislation and proposes County responses. Assists in development of projects and work plans. Develops project narratives, maps and other supporting information. Advises other agencies in development of natural resource programs to benefit Missoula County’s rural residents and natural resources. Performs related work as required or directed.