WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Yachats grapples with invasive plants and ponders whither urban renewal

Yachats City Councilors this week got an update on the fight against invasive plants that have been growing along the Yachats River. Morning Glories, Reed Canary Grass, Ivy, Clematis, and Japanese Knot Weed are all infiltrating the space between the river’s edge and thirty feet up the bank, a distance the town designates as its official “riparian zone.”

The town recently enacted a new law that forbids anyone attacking the invading plants with anything other than one’s two hands and a “cutting instrument.” No lawnmowers. No Weed whackers. And especially NO chemicals. Some townspeople hint the restrictions give the plants more than a fighting chance.

They were especially alarmed recently when small sprigs of Japanese Knot Weed came floating down the river and appeared to be trying to take root along their river bank. Wondering where all the pieces were coming from, a troupe of residents hiked up the watershed to have a look-see. And as they peered between the tree branches at the river’s edge, they spotted the culprit. It was a very busy beaver, working away on its home, using chopped up Japanese Knot Weed as filler. They returned downriver.

Over the next few days, to their shared relief, fewer and fewer sprigs of the weed floated by. Then it stopped altogether. Resident say they were even more glad to learn that none of the weed had actually taken root.

Another issue before the city council was how to better plan for the future of Yachats. There have been concerns that the town’s watershed is owned by two timber companies and the Siuslaw National Forest, over which the town of Yachats has absolutely no control. Yachats townspeople have no say over the condition of the land from whence the town draws its water. That troubles some townspeople including a few on the council. They agreed the town needs to come to grips with that and to somehow arrange to be given a say in what goes on “up in the mountains,” the place where their dishwashing, bathwater and garden spray comes from.

The council also mentioned that they are interested in getting a better understanding of how the Yachats urban renewal district operates, and how it could further contribute to the improvement of the town. City Councilor Greg Scott told us the district was initially set up to raise tax revenues to pay off the town’s enormous debt ($45,000 a month) caused by the recent upgrade to the town’s sewer plant. $45,000 a month divided between 800 townpeople is a pretty heavy load per household; about $270 a month. So they set out to find a way to lighten the load. They formed the urban renewal district and between the tax revenues from that and a local sales tax on prepared food and beverages, it took care of about a third of it. A good start.

More talk about the urban renewal process ensued as to how it could further improve the town. City Councilors cited problems with street maintenance and other common challenges of any incorporated community. However they were quick to remind those at the meeting that there are no definite plans on anything. The council just wanted to explore the “art of the possible” with regard to urban renewal funding and how it might address town needs over the years ahead.

The Yachats City Council meets on the 2nd Thursday of the month at the “The Commons” building in the center of town. Meeting starts at 2pm.

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