This month, we are celebrating our 15th anniversary of working to protect farmland, forests, and open space in the Rogue Valley by recognizing highlights to mark this milestone! Often working quietly from behind the scenes and sometimes going without notice, we bet some of these actions may surprise you. We hope you learn something new and get to know us better!
Looking back at our first five years:
- 2007: Rogue Advocates incorporated as a nonprofit in response to Measure 37, a ballot initiative that authorized the urbanization of farmlands and other valuable resource lands in Oregon. We watched Oregon’s land use laws being eroded and wanted to ensure that its rural character and vibrant communities stayed intact.
- 2009: successfully appealed to LUBA Jackson County’s attempt to increase rural sprawl conserving many thousands of acres.
- 2010: won Court of Appeals ruling and stopped developers from undermining Measure 49, thus triumphantly averted a statewide development feeding frenzy on farmland!
- 2010: became an affiliate of 1000 Friends of Oregon
- 2010-2011: joined neighbors in Circuit Court to victoriously stop a gravel operation in Murphy (Southside Mine)
- 2011: Friends of Jackson County merged with Rogue Advocates to become a stronger, unified force for sustainable land use
- 2011: Organized public response to the Greater Bear Creek Regional Problem Solving Process (RPS) in collaboration with 1000 Friends of Oregon. RPS proposed to urbanize thousands of acres of farmland in the valley. We organized citizens and farmers to testify at the hearings and successfully reduced loss of farmland and increased protections for farming in the region.
- 2011-12: Organized Envision the Rogue Valley, a series of community-based education seminars, to engage the public in envisioning the community they wanted as an alternative to sprawl-based development. We worked with community members, city and county planners, transportation agencies, and other local decision-makers to create and then implement this vision in the Rogue Valley with “Smart Growth” tools.
- Summer 2012: Protected Forestland by ensuring that Josephine County applied new state laws defining forestland, making it harder to convert forestland into rural development. We educated neighbors about complex laws and procedures so they could effectively participate in the process and hold our government accountable.
- Fall 2012- Maintained Quality Farmland by closing a loophole in Jackson/Josephine Counties which allowed mining on farmland under the guise of farm-use activity. The illegal siting of aggregate mines on farmland in both Josephine and Jackson counties has long been a problem that destroys good farmland.
During the past decade:
- 2011-18: Protected Talent residents and the Bear Creek Watershed from an unpermitted asphalt plant. The successful Mountain View Paving lawsuit involved an epic legal battle that spanned nearly a decade and involved seven successful LUBA appeals, multiple County hearings, and led up to Rogue Advocates prevailing in a federal Clean Water Act lawsuit which ultimately ceased operations of the illegal asphalt plant.
- 2016-ongoing: Protecting the Grave Creek Watershed by limiting mining. Rogue Advocates initiated the Sunny Valley Sand and Gravel lawsuit and we continue to partner with Waterwatch to contest water rights needed for mining to proceed.
- 2020: Appealed an aggregate mine in Greensprings (Jackson County). This 42-acre parcel is zoned as forest resource and the approved mining permit put an endemic fish, the Jenny Creek Sucker, at high risk. Also hired a Deputy Director to grow the organization’s impact and filed two additional appeals with victories the next summer.
- 2020-2021: Appealed illegal Ashland Land Annexation. The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) agreed with Rogue Advocates that the City illegally approved the Grandview Terrace annexation.
- 2020-2021: Reduced Rural Sprawl. LUBA again ruled in favor of Rogue Advocates with regards to an illegal Jackson County zone change that could have doubled developments on rural residential properties, impacting over 30,000 acres. In 2022, the application was withdrawn due to sustained opposition from Rogue Advocates and community members.
- 2022: Kicked off the new year with a dynamic new Program Manager to lead the Land Use Watchdog program. We filed a LUBA appeal with 1000 Friends of Oregon to protect forestland from being illegally rezoned for residential development in Josephine County. We have been participating in state-level rulemaking that will greatly improve the way our cities plan for climate change, wildfires, and sustainable transportation. We continue to educate the public about how and when land use decisions are being made in their communities––stay tuned for our upcoming public involvement resource guide!
Join us in celebration of our 15th anniversary by making a gift of $15 – $150 – $1,500 – $15,000 to ensure our Land Use Watchdog program continues to keep watch over the valley and acts when appropriate.
Checks can also be mailed to P.O. Box 624, Ashland, OR 97520. Gifts are not only good for the valley, but they are also tax-deductible. Thank you for your support!
Stay tuned to learn more about our recent work!
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