September 30, 2010 - Bend Bulletin - Ballot Measure 76 will extend funding for parks, wildlife

October 11, 2010
September 30, 2010 - Bend Bulletin - Ballot Measure 76 will extend funding for parks, wildlife

Ballot Measure 76 will extend funding for parks, wildlife

By Ryan Houston / Bulletin guest columnist

Published: September 30. 2010 4:00AM PST

This November, Oregonians will vote on Measure 76 — a ballot measure that seeks to continue Oregon’s lottery funding for clean water, healthy rivers, parks, outdoor education and economic vitality. In 1998, Oregonians voted to dedicate 15 percent of state lottery proceeds to support these important priorities. Since that time, the lottery has invested approximately $100 million per year throughout Oregon. However, the funding program created in 1998 will expire in 2014 unless renewed by Oregonians. A “yes” vote on Measure 76 will renew this funding now to ensure that valuable projects and programs continue uninterrupted into the future.

Regardless of where you live in Central Oregon, your political affiliation, or what you do for a living, Measure 76 will fund something that is important to you and your quality of life. While the November voter’s pamphlet will offer dozens of support statements detailing hundreds of reasons why the measure is good for Oregon, Measure 76 benefits Central Oregon in three ways:

1) it creates jobs and supports the economy;

2) it ensures we have clean water and healthy rivers; and

3) it creates hands-on outdoor educational opportunities.

Measure 76 brings new funding into local communities, creating jobs and supporting our state and local economies. These investments also bring new money to Oregon, attracting additional funds from private or federal sources. According to a 2010 economic and employment study conducted by the University of Oregon, the lottery funds granted over the last 12 years have attracted additional funds at the rate of 142 percent. This means that a $100,000 lottery grant typically attracts an additional $142,000 of outside funding, resulting in an economic benefit of $242,000. In most cases, the match funding comes from outside of Oregon, resulting in new funding coming into the state. This is a tremendous return on investment, significantly increasing the economic benefit of the lottery funding.

In the past two years alone, Central Oregon has received $11.4 million in lottery funding. These investments have supported watershed restoration, parks, wildfire risk reduction and water conservation, and have attracted additional millions of dollars in federal and private funding. On average, 78 percent of this funding has been spent in the private sector to hire contractors or purchase supplies. With an average of 16 jobs created for every $1 million of lottery investment, these funds make real differences in local communities.

The continued dedication of lottery funds supports clean water and healthy rivers throughout Oregon. The projects funded by the lottery bring people together in the spirit of collaboration to protect and restore Central Oregon’s world-class rivers. In the arid West, where “whiskey’s for drinking and water’s for fighting,” the Deschutes River basin has earned a national reputation as the home of collaborative conservation and a model for communities around the country.

In the Deschutes River downstream of Bend, for example, a decade of collaboration between farmers, ranchers, conservationists, fishermen and community organizations has helped bring life back to more than 40 miles of river. Ten years ago this section of the river was reduced to a 30-cubic-foot-per-second (cfs) trickle during the peak of the irrigation season. This year, more than 120 cfs flowed all summer, helping the river come back to life. This same story — farmers, conservationists, businesses all working together toward healthy rivers and clean water — has been repeated dozens of times throughout Central Oregon. Quite simply, river restoration at the scale and pace seen in the Deschutes River basin would not exist without the lottery investments of the last 12 years. Measure 76 helps continue this record of success.

Lottery funding has also created outstanding educational opportunities for students and teachers. It has expanded K-12 classrooms out into the forests, mountains and rivers that surround our Central Oregon communities. Over the last five years, more than 10,000 Central Oregon students from the Bend-LaPine, Redmond and Sisters schools districts have been involved in streamside education projects that have informed and enriched lessons in art, science and history. Students have planted trees along the banks of Tumalo Creek, studied spawning kokanee on the Metolius River, and learned about the water cycle in the High Desert. Lottery funding has contributed to these programs and created the community partnerships among teachers, nonprofit organizations and scientists necessary for success.

As the November elections approach, please consider how dedicated lottery investments have helped Central Oregon’s economy, rivers, landscapes and educational programs over the past 12 years. To ensure that these benefits continue into the future, please join the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and more than 165 other organizations across the state in supporting Measure 76. Help invest in the future of Oregon by voting yes on Measure 76 in November.

Ryan Houston, of Bend, is executive director of the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council.

Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2010

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An aerial view of a body of water.