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Slant 7-23-2015

• Looks like Eugene’s urban growth boundary will be expanding onto farmland in order to accommodate future industrial growth, along with some parkland and school land. The majority on the City Council this week gave a nod to the expansion, and it goes now to city and county planning commissions and public hearings. Why do we continue to develop and pave over prime farmland when such lands will become more valuable, even critically so, in the future? Meanwhile, Eugene has hundreds of acres of undeveloped or underdeveloped industrial and commercial lands, including brownfields, lands that need to be cleaned up before they can be redeveloped. Our focus should be there, rather than sprawling on the outskirts, burdening our infrastructure and reducing future agricultural opportunities.

• Any ideas on how to get rid of the personal “kicker” in Oregon, the only state that has it? That question came up at the City Club of Eugene discussion July 17 on the wrap-up of this legislative session. House Majority Leader Val Hoyle and Sen. Lee Beyer, both Democrats, agreed that public polling does not support a change. So when state revenue is higher than estimated, the margin kicks back to taxpayers. This biennium’s kicker will be a tax credit for individuals next year, reducing state revenues in 2016. The corporate kicker has been modified, and Rep. Phil Barnhart is exploring a way to reduce the personal kicker, which is a sorry drag on funding for education, human services, transportation, climate change measures, infrastructure and all the progress Oregon needs. The kicker also prevents Oregon from growing any significant rainy day fund to level out the ups and downs of the economy. We could stop polling and work on educating and persuading voters.

• The campaign to recall Sen. Floyd Prozanski is cranking up with robo-calls along with letters making downright false and inflammatory statements and asking for donations. The letter from Patricia A. Michaelson-Duffy of Cottage Grove this past week claims SB 941, the Oregon Firearms Safety Act, “bans virtually all private transfers of firearms.” Really? The legislation supported by Prozanski and signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown May 11, “Requires private persons to complete transfer of firearm by appearing with transferee before gun dealer to request criminal background check or shipping or delivering firearm to gun dealer in certain circumstances.” Giving or selling a gun to a relative is exempt. Why the lies about SB 941 and other false claims about Prozanski? The petitioners are obviously targeting people who don’t read newspapers or follow the Legislature and will respond to any perceived threat to gun ownership — and send them money. We call “foul” on this group.

• Our annual Pets issue this week has lots of good information and some much-needed fun in these sometimes dreary dog days of summer. Many dedicated people in Lane County are doing commendable work on animal issues, and one group that doesn’t get much attention is the Community Veterinary Center. The nonprofit clinic serves low-income people in our area with veterinary services beginning at $25 and some free care is available through grants. Deanna Larson is the board president. The center is located at 470 Highway 99 N. and the phone number is 636-3324. To find out if you qualify or to donate, see communityvet.org. 

• Corvallis is holding its fourth annual Edible Front Yard Garden Tour Thursday evening, July 23, and maybe Eugene and Springfield should be taking notes. Even little Philomath is doing a similar tour Aug. 20. The Corvallis tour begins at 6 pm at 2110 N.W. Mulkey Ave. The tour is sponsored by the Food Action Team of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition to encourage residents to consider edible plants when they landscape their yards. Great way to celebrate and revive an old idea.

• This unseasonably warm, dry weather is hard on fish, and we’re hearing from conscientious anglers that regardless of new fishing restrictions on the lower Willamette, it’s good to check water temperatures before you cast that line anywhere. Trout Unlimited has a visual guide for what water temperatures mean, and it can be found though the Oregon Flyfishing Blog at wkly.ws/21s. The guide shows that at 65 degrees F, trout will be sluggish and stressed as oxygen levels drop. One local fly-fisherman confessed to us that he once hooked a 14-inch native redside trout in Eastern Oregon and intended to release it, but it died while still on the line. The water temp was 68 degrees. Optimal fishing range is 45 to 58 degrees. Local fishing shops have water thermometers.

Which reminds us, what’s happened to our summer steelhead run? Any fish biologists out there? We know steelhead and salmon runs are affected by river and ocean conditions, plus the number of smolts that survive their journey downriver to the sea. Hardly any steelies are making it up from the Columbia into the Willamette.