On May 9th, 2022, Columbia County’s effort to rezone hundreds of acres was overturned by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.
May 9, 2022 (Salem, Ore.) — 1000 Friends of Oregon, Columbia Riverkeeper and farmers at Port Westward celebrated a decision by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) that maintains protections for 837 acres of high-value farmland in the midst of prime salmon habitat.
"Columbia County Commissioners erred badly in rezoning Port Westward. The land they seek to industrialize has been farmed for generations, providing unique and deep soils that sustain the production of food and other crops that go far beyond this community, from u-pick blueberries to high-quality mint and cattle,” said Mike Seely, mint farmer at Port Westward. “LUBA’s decision affirms that Oregon land use laws protect farmland, and that will improve our local economy.”
Local farmers, clean water advocates, and uprail communities concerned about long trains bisecting Columbia County cities and towns remain adamant that the Port Westward area is better suited to agriculture, forestry, and fisheries than industrialization.
“Again and again, community members have come together to protect the Lower Columbia River’s clean water, salmon and other fish, and sustainable jobs,” said Dan Serres, conservation director for Columbia Riverkeeper.
“The decision is a recognition of the importance of Oregon's land use laws — to protect our irreplaceable farm lands, especially in the face of a changing climate,” said Mary Kyle McCurdy, Deputy Director of 1000 Friends of Oregon.
Over 1,000 people — including local farmers, business owners, and people that live along the rail lines to the site — urged the Columbia County Board of Commissioners to reject the rezone proposal. Today’s LUBA decision affirms that community sentiment.
1000 Friends of Oregon and Columbia Riverkeeper are represented by Crag Law Center, a non-profit environmental law center serving Pacific Northwest communities.