City gets in the zone for fish

  • AMID HIGH-RISES: Chinook salmon

    Allan Solonsky


Portland is one of a few urban areas where endangered fish swim in the shadows of high-rises. In an effort to prevent eroding stream banks and rising water temperatures that harm fish, the city's planning bureau designated zones along its streams that impose building and landscape regulations on 19,000 acres of residential property.

That was more than 10 years ago. But the city's rivers are still in poor health, so the bureau has drafted Healthy Portland Streams, a proposal that would add 5,000 more acres to existing environmental zones and expand buffer strips along streams to prevent further development.

"Even an urban jurisdiction has a responsibility to help these fish," says Jim Middaugh, endangered-species manager for the city. "It's time for urban dwellers to step up to the plate."

But landowners in the riparian areas will lose property value and should be compensated, says Portland homeowner Bennett Langlotz, who has distributed fliers and created a Web site to inform the nearly 13,000 affected residents about the proposal. "Salmon issues are being used to justify greater control over property rights," adds Bill Moshofsky of Oregonians in Action, a private-property-rights group.

The planning bureau is reviewing the proposal and investigating ways to compensate landowners. A final draft may be ready for debate in the city council by late fall.

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