Urban Fold

Increase In Open Space For Portland Region

The regional government in Portland, Oregon, has set its sights on buying up thousands of acres of scenic lands for open space and parks. The voter-approved buy is part of a plan to improve many of the region's public spaces.

"Metro sets planning and transportation policy for 25 cities and the urban parts of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. The agency -- not always popular with limited-government advocates -- also oversees parks and waste programs, and manages visitor outposts such as the zoo and the Oregon Convention Center."

"Improving the region's environmental health accounts for nearly half of Metro's new budget, leaders estimate. That umbrella includes programs across the agency, from the Oregon Zoo to parks to recycling."

"But the biggest change is the natural areas program, which was approved last fall with a 59 percent yes vote. The program is widely popular, though some critics didn't want to raise taxes or preferred traditional, playground-and-baseball parks."

"Metro expects to buy 3,500 to 4,500 acres of scenic and environmentally sensitive land across the region from willing sellers. There is also $44 million to distribute to local governments and $15 million in community grants."

Full Story: Natural areas top Metro's to-do list

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