OC3 Opposes Okanogan River Land Acquisition

from OC3 Newsletter
August 2002

            OC3 opposes Central Washington University’s Okanogan River Riparian and Upland Fish and Wildlife Habitat Acquistion, BPA Project 29035 sponsored by Stewardship Partners (SP) for the following reasons:

            Appraised Value:  The appraisal conducted by SP was based on conservation ‘public use’ value. It has no basis in reality and does not represent fair market value.  Further the sellers have agreed to a 15% reduction in sale price that will apply to a 15% match.  Using this inflated appraisal would be a blatant misuse of BPA ratepayer dollars.

            Taxes:  There is conflicting information regarding property taxes.  The BPA proposal states the sellers will pay taxes; while project proponents say the University will do so.  In either case, the use of public funds - either taxpayer or ratepayer dollars - to support the local tax base is unsustainable. Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) remain stagnant and do not offset the production potential of the land.  PILT payments do not contribute to local levies for vital community services and further increase the property tax burdens for the remaining private landowners.

            Economy:  The supposed economic benefits to the county are questionable, since the research station would be self-contained providing meals and housing for staff and students.  The true economic boon is to the University itself, as a long-term ‘tap’ into future ratepayer/taxpayer funding sources, while the research station will provide a ‘draw’ for students who pay tuition.

            Land Acquisition:  Okanogan County land-base is already 80% government owned.  The project would ‘protect’ 6.2 miles of river frontage - the last completely natural and roadless area along the 80 miles of the Okanogan River south from Oroville to the confluence with the Columbia River.  However, many view this proposed acquistion of 1,671 acres as another assault on the last remaining 20% of privately owned land.

            OC3 believes the citizens of Okanogan County and the University would be better served to establish their research station on the extensive land-base already held by state and federal agencies and already supported by taxpayers.

            OC3; Excerpt from draft letter to Central Washington University; Northwest Power Planning Council, Bonneville Power Administration etc; July 2002


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