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Your help is urgently needed toSAVE A UNIQUE URBAN FOREST!


Dear Friends,


As soon as August 2021, barely a month from now, the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) is planning to destroy a beautiful forest habitat at E. 40th Ave. and Patterson St. containing more than 300 mature trees. A decision to move forward with this costly and environmentally destructive project was made hastily in April of this year following a unilateral recommendation by EWEB's general manager Frank Lawson. A proper alternatives analysis was never done, and only the residents who live in the immediate vicinity of the project were notified about the proposal—less than 1/10th of 1% of EWEB's roughly 200,000 customers. In addition, this 11th-hour change is in conflict with a key element of EWEB's Water System Master Plan which was created in 2015 and amended in 2020.


EWEB’s process of decision-making and communication are anything but open. For example: EWEB says only 25% of the trees on the property will be cut. True? Maybe. But which 25%? This characterization gives the same value or weight to a tree 3 years old and a tree 150 years old! It does not consider the density of the forested areas to be removed. We understand that 340+ trees are to be cut on the Patterson site to enable construction of two tanks, including the largest and oldest trees. And what percentage of the firs and native Willamette Ponderosa Pines will be cut? We have not been told these numbers.


If you are concerned about this inappropriate and non-inclusive process or with the unjustified decision to destroy this valuable urban hilltop forest, please consider taking one or more of the following actions:


1. Send an email to the EWEB Board of Commissioners.

Demand a public hearing on this subject. Message all five commissioners simultaneously by going to this website and filling in your request:

http://www.eweb.org/about-us/board-of-commissioners/contact-eweb-commissioners


2. Sign up to attend or to speak at the EWEB board meeting.

* * * * July 6, 5:30pm * * * *

You can sign up by going to this website (deadline is July 6 2:00pm)

http://www.eweb.org/about-us/board-of-commissioners/sign-up-to-speak


3. Call city councilor Matt Keating.

He represents the South Eugene district, where the proposed project is located. Tell him what you think. Mr. Keating can be reached at: 541-515-3819.


4. Pay a visit to this site.

Experience this unique forest yourself! East 40th Avenue and Patterson Street, on top of the hill.


5. Make a tax-deductible donation.

Support of our effort by sending checks for any amount, made out to "Eugene PeaceWorks” for the Save the EWEB Forest Project, and mail it to:

PO Box 11182

Eugene, OR 97440.


6. Volunteer to make a "lit drop" in your neighborhood.

Download and print the flyer here, or call David Zupan at 541-484-9167 to obtain copies.


DISCUSSION

EWEB purchased this property in the 1950s with the expressed intention of constructing a single water tank on it at a future time when there was a need for additional water storage. EWEB's Water System Master Plan, as amended in 2020, calls for a single 7.5 million-gallon water tank to be constructed on the Patterson St. hill in 2021–2022, followed by the decommissioning and replacement of the College Hill and Hawkins Hill reservoirs from 2023 to 2028. If needed, construction of a second Patterson hill water tank was proposed to begin in 2030, and additional storage at the College Hill and Oak Hill sites was proposed to begin in 2032. These decisions are documented in the March 12, 2021 memorandum from Karen Kelley, Water Operations Manager to Frank Lawson, General Manager, which is part of the "Record of Decision" for the current project proposal (which is available on EWEB's website).


The recommendation to change the previous carefully planned build-one-tank-now plan for the Patterson site to a simultaneous construction of two tanks now was apparently unilaterally made by General Manager Frank Lawson. It appears to be an engineering decision for expediency with little to no regard for environmental value of the existing ecosystem.


The only alternatives that were analyzed by staff were: (1) Construct one tank at the Patterson site beginning this year, and construct a second tank there beginning 10 years later or (2) Construct two tanks at the Patterson site beginning this year. It does not make sense to move forward with this $19.9 million, two tanks on Patterson proposal without first considering and analyzing other options, such as constructing additional storage facilities on the College Hill, Hawkins Hill, Oak Hill, or other sites, particularly considering the fact that these latter options are in the current EWEB Water System Master Plan.  


Furthermore, these other options would not require the removal of a beautiful mature forest, which is important both for its habitat values and because it sequesters carbon to reduce the threat of climate change. Additionally, since Eugene's urban forests have previously been reduced in size considerably below state and local goals for urban forests, it does not make sense to now reduce them still further absent a critical, demonstrated need to do so.  


Two of the seven pillars of Envision Eugene read as follows:  


·   “Protect, restore, and enhance natural resources," and 


·   “Plan for climate change and energy uncertainty."


EWEB's mission statement, as described in its 2017 Strategic Plan, states: “Our mission is to enhance our community's vitality by delivering drinking water and electric services consistent with the values of our customer-owners. We exist for the benefit of our local community.” [emphasis added]


EWEB's proposal to destroy the forest on the Patterson site for the purpose of constructing two large tanks there is not consistent with its own mission statement and Water System Master Plan, or with the pillars of Envision Eugene. Other alternatives must be examined first and given a fair hearing, including the emergency use of the Willamette River and an updated, city-wide water conservation program. I hope you will contact EWEB board members who “endorsed” the General Manager’s decision, and other elected representatives and make your voice heard on this important matter!


Sincerely,

Steve Goldman

Friends of EWEB Forest


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