Letters to the Editor - Feb. 21, 2014

Landfill investigation needed

Now that the dust has settled on the expansion of Yamhill County’s famous garbage dump, I think it’s time for some long overdue transparency as to just how all this brouhaha came about.

If I’m not mistaken, the latest action is the second time our commissioners have voted to override the planning commission’s recommendation against expansion of Riverbend Landfill. Personally, I’d like to know the reasons for their decisions.

According to the Yamhill County Administrator Laura Tschabold, the county received from Riverbend about $934,000 in 2013 and about $645,000 so far this year. How is that money disbursed?

We need more information regarding the expected pollution of the Yamhill River, such as information about the leak about a week ago. What if it happens again? The level of pollution could affect numerous farmers. Who’s going to pay the farmers who have to install expensive water treatment plants?

There should be a News-Register investigation.

Tony Hartford



Facts about Wallace Bridge

In response to “Easement Doesn’t Qualify” (Readers’ Forum, Feb. 14), Rob Tracey is certainly entitled to his opinion on whether the Wallace Bridge conservation easement modification should be approved.

I am a land use planner employed by Wallace Bridge, and readers deserve to know the facts.

Natural Resources Conservation Service regulations allow conservation easement modifications. Wallace Bridge asked to meet with the NRCS; it refused. A botanical and wetlands expert surveyed the properties involved and found the land offered to the NRCS was more valuable for habitat conservation than the land being disputed within the existing easement. NRCS didn’t care.

To kill invasive grasses and blackberries, the property Wallace Bridge needs for the equestrian center was sprayed with Roundup twice in 2013. This property must not be valuable habitat.

I agree that modifying a conservation easement should be “extremely difficult.” But the NRCS has approved easement modifications in other states, including Montana, allowing a rail spur for a coal company.

Contrary to Mr. Tracey’s letter, our request did meet easement modification requirements. A USDA National Appeals Division (NAD) hearings officer found it should have been approved. You may review this decision at www.wallacebridge.com/index.cfm?fa=news.article&i=322. Unfortunately, the NAD director overturned that decision, not on the merits of the modification, but based on whether NAD had jurisdiction to hear our appeal.

Approving this easement modification makes sense environmentally. It provides increased wetlands and threatened species protection, whether the equestrian center is built or not. This is a “win-win” opportunity for everyone, if given a chance by the NRCS.

I believe the NRCS has damaged its Wetland Reserve Program by not taking time to consider whether our easement modification might actually be in everyone’s best interests. The citizens of Polk and Yamhill counties as well as all United States taxpayers deserve better.

Michael Rupp



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