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Preserve the beauty and make it rich

Sreya SarkarQuickPoint!

Oregon presently has eight destination resorts that employ approximately 2,100 people. Destination resorts are a boon for cash-strapped rural Oregon counties, especially after the collapse of the timber industry. Five more resorts are expected to develop in central Oregon that would generate an additional 1,500 resort jobs.

Jefferson County has amended its zoning ordinances to allow destination resorts in the Metolius River Basin. Senate Bill 30 intends to stall this development to protect a unique scenic beauty. The bill is sponsored by Senator Westlund of Deschutes County that has the largest number of destination resorts in the state.

Dutch Pacific Resources, a company that plans an ecologically-oriented destination resort in this area, claims that its proposed resort will both protect the Metolius basin and engender economic development in the county.

It is important to examine this claim and not to politicize this issue unnecessarily. Rewording the bill allowing the set up of resorts that comply with sound eco standards might be a practical middle path solution in this case. While it is important to preserve natural beauty it is just as important to think about the region’s economic development.

Sreya Sarkar is an anaylst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon-based think tank.

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