Guest Editorial Week Of 9/13/2021

Susan E. Orosz

Why wetlands in eastern Oregon are important

You may not be a birder and that is OK. However, it is a highly publicized fact that eastern Oregon and Jerusalem Township comprise the crown jewel of birding.
That by itself is huge and is the reason that this area makes a significant income on the birders during the Biggest Week of Birding in May. Migratory birds flock here to rest before flying north in the spring. And as we know about birds in general - they tell us of things to come due to their physiology. And we should pay attention to them- as did the miners taking canaries into the mine- when the birds had trouble breathing it was time to get out.
So in this case what do they tell us? If there was to be industrial development in the eastern Oregon, there would be a significant disruption of the birds on the flyway and those that make this area their home during the summer months.
There would be an increase in the number of people, cars, and trucks in an already congested Navarre Avenue/Route 2. That would cause the birds difficulty finding food and resting as they don’t want to be around many people. The same could be true for Oregonians. It is hard to imagine that Coy Road and Navarre Avenue could get even more congested. Turning onto this heavily trafficked area would become even more daunting and any “fix” with side roads would come from your taxpayer dollars.
Food for the birds would be harder to find as there would be large buildings on this proposed site. And who says that it would only be confined to just that square mile? That would reduce what they could find to eat and to rest as their flight pathway takes about 100 years to adjust.
From the human side there would be more fast-food joints, more people and more noise. And birds don’t like noise and lots of people and can’t handle sprawl. Oregon in its master plan for 2025 apparently did not like sprawl either. The eastern portion of Oregon was to be in an agricultural/wetland reserve as the planners understood the importance of the birding jewel and open spaces for its people. Many people have remarked that they moved here to live because of the open spaces.
It also seems that zoning restrictions are made to be broken or changed. What you thought was to be zoned agriculture could be changed. It may not be without a public zoning meeting but the public does not get to do the final vote. That should make you sit up and take notice.
There is a sentiment that we can only have good-paying jobs if we say yes to eastern Oregon industrial development. Really? What happens to the land that is open and ready for industrial development in western Oregon that already has water, electric and sewer service and is appropriately zoned?
And how much of a tax burden is it for running the utilities for industry in an area that was zoned agriculture and projected to be that way till 2025?
When it becomes zoned for industry, what kind of industry will it be? Will Oregonians have a say? And what type of environmental impact will there be for the birds and the residents? What will happen to the air and the water quality? These are important questions to those who live here and want Oregon to be livable.
Oregon has this great start thanks to the Metroparks Toledo and the Ohio park system with Maumee Bay to its north. It has open spaces with agriculture and increasing numbers of wetlands developed through the H2Ohio and federal agricultural programs. That is starting to make a difference in the health of our critical western basin of Lake Erie and the algae blooms that shut down the water intake. The water quality is beginning to turn around.
The open spaces and wetlands are providing habitat for wildlife that has not graced the area in many years like the piping plovers and trumpeter swans. These birds are telling us that what we are doing currently is compatible with life. Let’s not go the other way. Let’s enhance wildlife while enhancing the lives of those living in Oregon and its future generations.

Susan E Orosz PhD, DVM, Diplomate, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in Avian Practice and Diplomate, European College of Zoological Medicine in Avian Practice
Long time resident of Jerusalem Township


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