Assignment for Team 2

The Planners Explain Scenarios or Options to the Developers and Environmentalists at Public Workshop No. 4 (Feb. 1990)

Team 2 is made up of people working with Steve Gordon, an urban planner with the Lane Council of Governments in Eugene, to create a plan for dealing with the west Eugene wetlands. This team must introduce the 4th public workshop at the community center in the west Eugene study area, February 1990. In this workshop the team will do three things: (1) present the results of the survey taken at the preceding workshop (Nov. 1989), (2) introduce a vision for the future of the Amazon Creek basin and its wetlands for multiple purposes, and (3) offer three alternative wetlands management scenarios for public discussion. On the team are people from the City of Eugene Planning Office and members of "the Wetheads," an interdepartmental and interagency staff team managed by Steve Gordon of the Lane County Council of Governments, which worked on contract with the City of Eugene (See the comprehensive planning chart, the chart for the organization of wetlands planning, and the chart showing the relationship of local plans to the statewide plan). Team members may use their own names and give themselves titles related to the city planning department or to the LCOG project, called the West Eugene Wetlands Special Area Study (WEWSAS).

Getting Started

To get started you might like to know more about

Background Information

In January 1989, the City of Eugene contracted with the Lane Council of Governments to conduct the West Eugene Wetlands Special Area Study (WEWSAS) and develop a comprehensive plan. The city council specified four objectives: to use the best information available to help the community understand the choices available: to find a balance between environmental protection and sound urban development that meets state and federal laws and regulations; to provide opportunities for all interested segments of the community to be involved in development of the plan, and to turn a perceived "wetlands problem" into a "wetlands opportunity " for the community.

The study was to cover approximately 8,000 acres in the Amazon Creek drainage basin in west Eugene. During the study, 1,307 acres of wetlands were discovered. The group recommended that 1,019 acres be protected and that 288 acres be developed. In addition, upland areas were identified that provided valuable connections between the wetland system and land to buffer wetlands from adjacent impacts. As federal agencies wrangled over what constituted wetlands and which ones had to be protected, the projected number of actual wetlands in west Eugene rose and fell.

Your team does not need to sort out or mention the national policy conflicts that caused these changes, although these are chronicled in the newspaper accounts (news 32, 34, and 37) in this site if you are curious about them. Just realize that this is a turbulent time and members of your audience will very likely have heard inflammatory positions taken by various political figures and radio talk show hosts.

Background on Oregon as a planning state and why Eugene's area for industrial land is limited.

In response to rapid population growth and urbanization in the 1950s and 60s, the Oregon Legislature enacted the 1973 Oregon Land Use Planning Act, which became famous as Senate Bill 100. The Act created a partnership between state and local governments in land use planning and regulation of development. The Land Conservation and Development Commission was to "prescribe planning goals and objectives to be applied by state agencies, cities, counties, and special districts throughout the state" (ORS 197.005). The bill also established the Department of Land Conservation and Development to administer statewide goals.

The state plan addressed four types of goals: citizen involvement, land use planning, and conservation of farm and forest lands and their natural resources, as well as conservation of coastal resources. Each city and county had to develop a comprehensive plan meeting state standards and approved by the LCDC. Each city had to define an urban growth boundary within which urban development would be confined. Once these plans were approved, they had the effect of law, and local and state land use activities had to be made consistent with local comprehensive plans.

Eugene's approach to knowledge creation and citizen involvement

Eugene arranged a contract with Lane County to have its urban planner, Steve Gordon, direct the West Eugene Wetland Special Area Study. Instead of creating a citizen advisory committee, as some towns might have done, Gordon formed a technical advisory committee , which was informally known as the "wetheads," who searched for the information citizens needed. It was composed of a representative from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Division of State Lands, and the Department of Environmental Quality, which helped guide the planning process. The Wethead's mission was to develop information and take it to the people. This group wrote reports, gave land owners guidance on scientific and legal aspects of the study, commented on recommendations, and provided handouts and posters, and staffed a station during workshops where citizens could ask detailed technical questions. The team can assume that the Wetheads will be present at the February 1990 meeting.

Citizen Input
To gather information about citizens' preferences, a survey form was developed to gather information that would allow the planning group to prioritize the protection of various wetlands, determine which wetlands were suitable for development, determine the parameters for a wetland mitigation plan (including types, ratios, and timeing), and plan ways of managing and financing the restoration, replacement, and maintenance of a wetlands system. See Results

The Current Situation

WEWSAS Wetheads conducted field trips and public workshops and prepared mailings and newsletters to build a group of knowledgeable citizens who could advocate a consensus. The outreach program tried to involve a large cross-section of the community. Sometimes the Wetheads met with individual property owners privately. The workshops drew big crowds--as many as a hundred and fifty people--and some property owners attended all the meetings. Frustration was the dominant mood until early in 1990. At the meetings Gordon felt they had to make their presentations in such a way that the audience would understand they had a common problem caused by changes in state and federal regulations, not by local folks. Everyone would have to work together, Gordon believed.

The Audience You'll Face

Notices about your February 1990 workshop have been mailed to all interested parties on the mailing list, and posters and news releases have been used to advertise the workshop. Each affected property owner has been notified about the workshop and has been mailed an information packet to encourage their participation. About 150 people are expected, mostly developers, property owners, and business people (primarily from the Eugene Community Association). While many of these people appreciate the land, discovery of wetlands on their properties has substantially affected the prospects of financial reward. On the other hand, environmentalists suspected that natural resources would be sacrificed to economic interests.

Divergent Views

The audience you're facing will contain people of divergent views. The following letters to the editor are an indication of the range of feelings the audience may have at this meeting:

"Wetlands Destroyed," Letter to the Editor from the Eugene Register-Guard, 5/02/1989 (NWS 11)

"Shocking Fiasco!" Letter to the Editor from the Eugene Register-Guard, 5/02/1989 (NWS 10)

The landowners ranged from ordinary individuals to big foundations and leading families and developers. Expect ordinary pickup trucks and luxury cars in the parking lot at the February meeting.

"Landowner's views" (excerpt from NWS 46; The Register Guard) . . . .
There is no better illustration of the west Eugene protection-development conflict than Stewart Pond, a muddy, grass-filled depression about five-minutes' drive from downtown. On a recent sunny afternoon, red-winged blackbirds danced in and out of the underbrush while a ring-necked pheasant flapped low across the oozy surface. Bought in the late 1960s by the Hult family as investment property, it was at one time slated to be filled and developed as a commercial property--the kind of property that might have attracted a major discount store or a medium-sized manufacturer.

Stewart Pond

The Hults' land will fetch some twenty years' later just about the amount they originally paid for it. Stewart Pond is slated to become a small wildlife preserve according to the recommendations the team is to present at the workshop. The regional office of the Bureau of Land Management (part of the U.S. Department of the Interior) would maintain the property.

The Register-Guard tells the story behind the property:
A century ago, Stewart Pond would have been indistinguishable from the surrounding marshes and lowlands that make up the Amazon Creek drainage. Most of west Eugene was either swampland or grassland prairie that remained wet in winter and dried out during the summer.

As Eugene grew, the meadows became farms. Considered worthless obstructions to progress --too wet to farm, too unstable to build one -- wetlands were filled in to make space for homes and businesses. Streets and highways divided the marshes into separate ponds.

Environmentalists, however, took a different view. The nation's rapidly disappearing swamps and bogs were home to a rich diversity of wildlife. They played a critical role in flood control, and they served as giant water purifiers that filtered out silt and chemical pollutants.

Under pressure from environmental groups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency included wetlands protection in federal clean water laws during the late 1970s. The only problem was, hardly anyone knew what a wetlands was. (from NWS 45)

Instructions to the team

Your team will talk for a total of 15 or 20 minutes, or as your instructor directs. Part of the talk will be to explain your communication strategy for the workshop to the class. The rest of the presentation will simulate the opening of the workshop. Your purpose at that workshop is to present the results of the survey taken at the preceding workshop (Nov. 1989) and to introduce the three scenarios based on those results, on which you're seeking citizen feedback. You will have two forms to gather results at this February workshop: one that asks for citizen feedback on scenarios A, B, and C, and another form that invites citizens to comment on individual wetland sites within the study area. (See these forms in team resources.)

Use the summary information in the "West Eugene Public Preference Survey Results," the wetlands map showing different types of wetlands identified in the study, the two forms that will be used to collect information from citizens, and information about the purpose of the workshop to plan a 90-minute workshop, which you will introduce with your ten-minute welcome and preview. Your ability to set the tone for the whole event in those ten minutes will have a big effect on its success.

Consult Survey Results to see a summary of citizens' answers to the Nov. 1989 survey.

In addition to reporting on results, you need to introduce the three scenarios for managing wetlands in west Eugene that have been developed on the basis of the Nov. 1989 survey results. You should present the scenarios briefly. These are Scenario A, Scenario B, and Scenario C. Their main differences are summed up in the conclusions of the "West Eugene Wetlands Special Area Study: Citizen Workshop No. 4, Wetlands Information and Scenarios, February 24, 1990." The proportion of wetland acres protected or developed in each of these scenarios varies as follows:

Scenario A Acres developed 792Acres protected578
Scenario B Acres developed 510Acres protected860
Scenario C Acres developed 185Acres protected1185

These amounts are shown in a chart.

No mitigation plan is included in the scenarios because the mitigation proposal will be presented at the next citizen workshop planned for May 1990.

Part A.

Before you demonstrate your ten-minute presentation, one member of the team should introduce the physical set-up and the team's persuasive strategy for the meeting in a five-minute presentation. In the five-minute set-up talk, present to the class a diagram of the workshop room and their position as audience in it, showing how you have positioned the displays, tables, and individuals from the Wetheads for answering questions one on one and talking with individuals about their properties, ideas, and suggestions. You can download the diagram of the room and use a graphics program to manipulate the image to show what you'd do; you can create a diagram of your own with a graphics program of your choice; or simply print out the diagram and draw in the arrangements and make a transparency from that. Turn in to the instructor a list of things you believe will affect the audience's feelings and commitment to being part of the solution to the problem.

Part B.

The rest of the team will give the class a ten- to fifteen-minute presentation (according to the time limits given by your instructor) intended for the people who come to the workshop from Eugene. People will want to know right away how long your talk is going to take, who you are, and what's going to happen. Use the time for
a welcome,
introduction of team members, and
an overview presentation of
the agenda for the workshop,
the survey results from November and
the three new scenarios on which you're seeking feedback.
The team's presentation launches the workshop and needs to create a friendly mood in the audience, which includes people with divergent views and interests. Think of ways that you can involve the audience after the presentation in consensus building and announce to them in the presentation any actions that you want them to take. To enable people to express their opinions, you might consider such processes as "bean jar surveys," coloring in their ideas and suggestions on blank maps and other things.

The team can decide to use the space (see diagram) as it wishes. Remember that during the workshop people need to be able to move about to obtain information, look at the three scenarios and maps, get answers to questions about specific properties, obtain materials, sign in and be welcomed, obtain refreshments, and talk. You may either have the audience stand for the ten-minute presentation or bring in chairs and arrange seating in the room. Think about the consequences of having seating vs. allowing open flow. What problems arise with each arrangement, given the differing stakes and attitudes of the audience? Your goal is to build as much good will as possible.

Resources for the Team

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The West Eugene Wetlands Team, Rice University
Copyright Rice University, 1996
Last Updated: 1996.08.14