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Land Use Board: Oregon recreation trail must be reconsidered

December 31, 2020 GMT

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The farm impacts of a recreational trail southwest of Portland in Yamhill County weren’t properly analyzed, so the project must be reconsidered, according to a state land use board.

County officials failed to comply with a prior order to “make specific factual findings” about whether the 3-mile Yamhelas-Westider trail will “force a significant change in farming practices” related to pesticide spraying, The Capital Press reported.

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Farmers are not obligated to accommodate the trail by changing their accepted farm practices, even if that change is ’reasonable, prudent and feasible,” The Land Use Board of Appeals said.

Yamhill County bought a 12.5-mile stretch of rail corridor for $1.4 million in 2017 and approved converting several miles between Yamhill and Carlton into a recreational trail.

The board overturned that decision, however, on procedural grounds in 2018 and because of farm impact concerns in 2019, before the ruling this week.

Farmers and the Oregon Department of Agriculture testified that spraying of gramoxone and parazone herbicides near the trail would be banned, which weighs heavily in the favor of the project’s opponents, the ruling said.

Yamhill County’s conclusion that the trail wouldn’t affect use of these chemicals “is not supported by substantial evidence” or “countervailing expert testimony,” according to the land use board.

The county also wrongly didn’t evaluate if the trail will change how farms are regulated under the federal government’s “application exclusion zone” for pesticides, the ruling said.

“The burden is on the county to demonstrate that its nonfarm use will not force a significant change, the board said. ”The county has not done so.”