Election day demonstrated that Oregonians place a special value on water, parks and wildlife. Measure 76 passed with a solid majority, permanently dedicating lottery dollars towards accessible recreation and protecting and restoring wildlife habitat in Oregon. For Central Oregon, the permanence of the funding will be major boost to local conservation projects led by the Deschutes Land Trust.
“Lottery funding has helped the Land Trust seize a number of incredible conservation opportunities during the last 15 years,” said Brad Chalfant, Executive Director of the Deschutes Land Trust. “The Land Trust would have had a really tough time protecting the Metolius Preserve or restoring places like Camp Polk Meadow Preserve without those funds, which then attracts private funders to the projects. Our current Whychus Canyon project depends heavily on these funds and this vote means we can count on funding being available for other high quality wildlife project, including perhaps Skyline Forest.”
As part of the Land Trust 15th Anniversary Campaign, the Land Trust is working to acquire Whychus Canyon Preserve—a 450 acre property, with 2 miles of Whychus Creek, which will create new regional trails, protect scenic views, and essential habitat for fish and wildlife. Lottery funds from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board is providing an important block of the funding for this $2.9 million project, with the Deschutes Land Trust working to raise the remaining balance by year end.
Since many of the Land Trust’s projects take years to develop, Chalfant noted, “the knowledge that these dedicated funds will continue to be available is critical to our ability to work with a private landowner and structure a transaction which may take several years to close.”