Help shape our area's 'greenprint'
A Bend Bulletin editorial on the Greenprint for Deschutes County.
August 01, 2009
Believe it or not, the Deschutes Land Trust doesn't spend every working hour trying to preserve the Skyline Forest. The organization does other things, too. These days, for instance, it's working with The Trust for Public Land to develop a "greenprint" for Deschutes County.
Don't be put off by the cute name - you have to call it something - or by the fact that the exercise is a kind of "visioning," which stirs up some bad memories for many Bend residents. The county "greenprint" is a worthwhile exercise that will do no harm and perhaps much good.
Greenprinting is a specialty of the TPL, which uses surveys and public meetings to determine a given area's recreational and conservation priorities. Then, using that information and mapping software, it identifies high- and low-priority pieces of land. You can find an example of the finished product, in this case a greenprint for several Maine communities, here. Meanwhile, the work that's been done so far in Deschutes County can be found here: www.deschutescountygreenprint.org.
To some extent, of course, the greenprint will be redundant. Park districts, cities and other governmental entities already give considerable thought to land use. This effort, however, will address on a regional scale matters local policymakers tend to address in comparative isolation. The greenprint, incidentally, enjoys the support of Deschutes County, Bend, Redmond, Sisters and La Pine. Park districts in Bend, Redmond and Sisters have signed on, too, as has the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
What good will the greenprint do? Brad Chalfant, executive director of the Deschutes Land Trust, points to a benefit that probably isn't obvious to most people. The document will make it easier to secure grants and other funds to pursue local recreation and conservation projects. As arguments go, getting other people to pay for stuff you want is pretty convincing. (Can we do a Deschutes County Beerprint next?)
For local policymakers, meanwhile, the greenprint could become a valuable advisory document. Nothing in the greenprint will be binding or regulatory. Rather, it will express public opinion in a unique and useful form. The difficult task of balancing preservation and private-property rights will still belong, as it should, to elected officials, who ought to keep their thumbs on the property-rights side of the scale. But when it comes to making difficult decisions, good information is particularly important.
Here's where county residents come in. Later this summer, the greenprint's organizers will solicit public opinion directly through the project's Web site (www.deschutescountygreenprint.org). The group already has completed a small-scale survey, but the 400 people who participated represent only two-tenths of 1 percent of the county's population. That's a lot of unrecorded opinion.
The greenprint will be produced with or without the involvement of the 99 percent of county residents who haven't expressed themselves yet. As soon as the opportunity arises, they should make their opinions known.