Potential The Dalles industrial area developers now have a quicker pathway through the wetlands permitting process thanks a new Advance Aquatic (wetlands) Resource Plan sponsored by the Port of The Dalles.
James T. Paul, director of Oregon Department of State Lands, on July 8 signed The Dalles’ plan to
provide an expedited wetlands permitting process for future developers on local industrial lands.
The Advance Aquatic Resource Plan was three years in the making. It was prompted by two earlier development plans that were significantly delayed as a result of an extended wetlands process, a previously unidentified seasonal wetland, and the lack of identified mitigation options. In one case, the tenant backed out of the process after the land owner had already incurred significant development costs. The other development is still working its way through the appeals process after more than seven years.
“The Advance Aquatic Resource Plan has already gone through the review process, so where the wetland permit is concerned, appeals should not be an issue,” said Kathy Ursprung, who staffed the project for the Port of The Dalles, the plan’s sponsor.
Plans for specific removal and fill ground work and for stormwater management are not included in the plan, because they require the details of a specific project for completion.
Working through the Oregon Regional Solutions process, a Technical Advisory Committee was assembled, including land owners, local stakeholders like the City of The Dalles and Wasco County, and state and federal regulators. This committee directed the planning process, establishing criteria on how to protect the most sensitive or otherwise valuable wetlands while still preserving development sites of a size suitable for large industrial businesses.
A number of organizations, including the City of The Dalles, the Oregon Investment Board, the Infrastructure Finance Authority, the Department of Land Conservation and Development, and the Department of State Lands helped the Port pay for a wetlands delineation — a document identifying and characterizing all the wetlands in the study area — as did the five land owners and Lockheed Martin.
“We appreciate the support and assistance of these partners, who recognized the need for a better solution to wetlands permitting,” said Andrea Klaas, executive director of the Port.
The wetlands delineation is available for use with any development in the study area, potentially saving developers thousands of dollars in cost and months of time, whether the Advance Aquatic Resources plan is used or not. Use of the plan is strictly voluntary.
The plan’s objective is to apply strategies for protecting wetlands while maximizing the land available for development. Its associated mitigation strategy identifies opportunities within the study area because options outside the industrial area were severely limited.
The state rules used to implement the federal Clean Water Act in Oregon require that no net loss of wetlands is incurred, so any development atop wetlands must be offset by enhancement, expansion or restoration of other, nearby wetlands.
For more information on the Advance Aquatic Resource Plan, go to the Port’s Wetlands page.