March 2023 Newsletter | Friends of Clark County in SW Washington
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March 2023 Newsletter

March 2023 Newsletter


March 2023

Welcoming Mo McKenna
  Ann Foster, Board President

It is with great pleasure that I welcome a new member to our Friends of Clark County board.  Mo McKenna, of MoMo Flower Farm in Ridgefield has joined the board and has immediately contributed new energy, awareness, perspective and insights to the group.

Although you are welcome to take a peek at Mo’s bio on the website, I’ll point out here that she has a full time career as Director Partner Development of InsideTrack.  This is a national nonprofit that fosters equitable access to opportunity for all learners by partnering with higher education institutions, employers, unions, public entities and foundations.  

She and her husband also own MoMo Flower Farm, growing and selling cut flowers in a diverse, no-till farmscape.  Twelve years ago or so she developed and implemented programs at several farmers markets in the Portland area all the while working at various farms as either a volunteer or ag worker (including Costa Rica!).  Mo has a degree in Sustainable Agriculture from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina and an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Mo has become an active advocate for sustainable farming practices and farmland protection in Clark County – a perfect fit for Friends of Clark County and a plus for Clark County.  

Welcome, Mo McKenna!

Heritage Farm Update 
Jackie Lane, Board Treasurer

The “78th Street Heritage Farm” (“Farm”) as it is now known began its life as a settlement for unpaid property taxes by the Anderson Family (of Sara J. Anderson fame, school, etc.). A total of 100 acres turned over to Clark County by Mr. & Mrs. Anderson in 1871 was divided into the current ~80 for the poor farm and the remaining 20 for what would become Hazel Dell Neighborhood Park.  The actual county poor farm began operation in 1873 with the main, colonial style building, being built in 1898.  The building has been added to the county, state and national registers of historic places in 2012 and 2013.  Approximately 200 individuals lived on the poor farm and did what labor they could to maintain themselves and the farm.  Many of them are still on the site, buried in the cemetery on the hill.

This continued until Washington State College (now Washington State University, of course) began its use of the site for their Experimental Station in the mid-1940s.  This lasted until, under the terms of their agreement with Clark County, the college had no more ongoing experiments.  At that time, 2008, the site was returned to the County’s ownership and is still working with the university’s Extension Office at the Farm.

At the time of the 2019 master planning operation, rumbles were heard (faintly perhaps) that it might be better to sell the asset.  That thankfully was overruled by a far-sighted county council, and a master plan was developed which has been updated since then.  Several sites exist for information on the Farm and are well worth a visit.  The current effort regarding the Farm is the Sustainability Steering Committee’s work to create a plan to generate cash flow that will minimize the draw on the county’s general fund.  The committee is comprised of representatives from various groups involved in or for the Farm’s future.

The committee has been meeting since October 2022 and the end date for a proposal to the Board of County Councilors (“BOCC”) has been put at July 2023, although it may take slightly longer than that.  The BOCC would like to be able to begin putting the plan into action before year end.  The committee met on Monday, March 13th for a lengthy workshop to review suggestions received and to add more as a result of the December 2022 open house as well as the county-wide survey responses.  There is a lot of work to be done to produce a viable plan, but everyone involved is taking this responsibility very seriously.  

Email Clark County park planner, Lynde Wallick, with questions or to receive project updates at

Public comments are still welcome. Please email comments to These will be shared with the Steering Committee as they make recommendations for the Plan.

Visit the plan development website to find more information. You can obtain meeting and open house information, including recordings and a plan for future meetings.

Friends of Clark County Forum
       Lea Bain, FOCC Community Engagement Manager

FOCC had a wonderful turnout on Feb 23 to our GMA forum, Land Use Planning & Us. If you missed it, you can view the full recording here. For links to the resources meantioned within in the Forum, click here.

Thank you for all that joined us to create such a lively forum! 

Comprehensive Plan Update

Comprehensive Planning is a requirement of the Growth Management Act, and Clark County and its cities are required to complete their next plans by mid-2025. These plans will define where growth occurs for the next twenty years. 

Cities also have planning efforts, so check out your city webpage as well. For example, Vancouver lets you sign up for updates here.

Status Updates

  • Vacant Buildable Lands Model complete – defines how many people can be accommodated within current city Urban Growth Areas.
  • Public Participation Plan in progress. Public hearing March 21 @ 6:00 pm as part of the County Council meeting. You can join a County Council meeting either in person, online, or watch via CVTV.
  • County to host Information Sessions on Comprehensive Plan update on March 29 from 1:30 – 4:30. WIll be recorded and available later on CVTV
  • Population estimates provided by the State; County will pick from low, medium and high at the April 18th 6:00 pm Council meeting. If they pick high they will grow the UGBs, resulting in unnecessary sprawl. Rumor has it the cities oppose this. 
    • It is worth noting that the county manages growth & development within UGAs until and unless those areas are annexed. 
  • State Legislation impacting the GMA that we hope passes:
    • HB 1181/SB 5203 – Mitigating the effects of Climate change
    • HB 1110/SB5190 – Increasing housing options with Middle Housing
    • HB 1517/SB 5466 – Transit Oriented Development
    • Find each bill’s status and more information here and visit Futurewise for state actions.

In other local land-use news, the County will host a work session about the 179th Street Access Management and Circulation Plan on March 29.

Further resources

  • Please make sure you are following Friends of Clark County for announcements, newsletters, action alerts, forums and more. 
  • Campaign for A People’s Clark County, WA is the effort of a local resident and member of Alliance for Community Engagement seeking to partner with other individuals and community organizations, including those serving young people and under-represented groups, to generate interest in the update. Please “Like” their page and share with your community. 
  • The League of Women Voters of Clark County is also following this closely, and has a blog specifically focused on Land Use.

Friends of Clark County Recommends a Complete Moratorium on Development in the 179th St. Access and Management Plan Area
          Mo McKenna, FOCC Board Member & Local Farmer

In 2020, 2200 acres of land near the Clark County Fairgrounds was added to the Vancouver Urban Growth Boundary. This historically rural community is home to farms, forests, wetlands, and creeks where salmon spawn. The area is now rapidly developing and area residents, many of whom have been fighting against urban development for nearly 20 years, demand accountability from the county.

Residents Demand: Follow the Law

The Washington State Growth Management Act requires that infrastructure is in place before development occurs. Called “concurrency,” this requirement ensures that existing residents of a community don’t experience significant decreases in their quality of life due to development. Road infrastructure, public transit, and services are all supposed to be planned and funded before development occurs.
Clark County is in egregious violation of concurrency rules. They don’t have the funding, they don’t have an approved plan, and work has not even begun to improve the infrastructure, yet they just keep approving new development. Since 2020, at least 10 major developments have been approved by the Council, adding thousands of new homes.

Additionally, the Washington Department of Transportation just announced that the state funding for the 179th St. interchange will very likely be delayed until 2035. This means that all this development that is occurring along the 179th St. Corridor is driving traffic to an interchange that won’t be improved for at least another 12 years. The traffic gridlock that current residents already face whenever there are events at the Clark County Fairgrounds and Amphitheater will pale in comparison to the gridlock residents will encounter when trying to get on and off the interstate once all these houses and apartments are occupied. 

Residents demand that the county follow the law and ensure that infrastructure exists before more development is approved. 

Plan for Livability, Not Just Homes

Historically, this area is rural. There are tall trees, ample wildlife, wetlands, and tons of creeks. Driving around the neighborhood, you often see barns and farm animals, people on tractors, and folks growing and producing things on the land. On a clear night, you can see the stars. 

Perhaps the best evidence of the value of the existing rural community is the developer’s own advertising in their homes for sale. They tout that homes are close to parks and walking trails, talk about the rural nature of the community, and there is even a banner on the homes that back up to undeveloped land advertising them as homes on “green space.”

Thus, an excellent companion to the 179th St. Access and Management Plan would be commitment by the county to make progress on the recommendations outlined in the 2022-2027 Natural Areas Acquisition Plan of the Legacy Lands Program (Pages A-40 – A-41)

The plan states:

While the watershed is rapidly changing to an urban/suburban landscape, Whipple Creek provides a highly important travel corridor and habitat area for a variety of fish and wildlife. Historically, the creek supported populations of steelhead, coho, Chinook, chum, and sea-run cutthroat trout. These fish populations have been in severe decline. However, present-day use by steelhead, coho, and sea-run cutthroat trout has been documented. Channel-spanning beaver dams are located throughout the main stem and major tributaries. Remaining intact stands of riparian and Douglas fir forest support a variety of neotropical migrant birds, woodpecker, hawks, owls, deer and other wildlife. […]

High acquisition priorities include riparian areas that also support intact mixed mature forests and uplands habitats. Projects that are large enough to provide multiple habitat functions (breeding, nesting, sanctuary, resting, feeding, etc.) are important within this kind of urbanizing landscape. Other important focal areas include Packard Creek and connections between lower Whipple Creek and the Vancouver Lake Lowlands. Acquisitions that expand Whipple Creek Park, the upper Whipple Creek Urban Wildlife Habitat Area, and that provide trail connections within the Whipple Creek Basin and between Whipple Creek and Salmon Creek are also priorities. Clark County should also explore opportunities to establish a farm preservation district within the Whipple Creek subarea, consistent with this plan’s goals and objectives.

Neighborhood Residents want to see detailed plans from the county on how and when they will acquire high-priority lands in the area prior to additional development being approved. In the future, real estate developers that want to build in the area should submit plans that accelerate the preservation of critical habitat. 

Additionally, the county should immediately create a farm preservation district within the Whipple Creek subarea either within or bordering the 179th St Urban Holding Area.

Work with Existing Neighborhood Residents

Throughout this entire process, the county has not provided ample opportunity for existing residents to provide feedback on what they want for their community. 

Provide Sufficient Notice
Notification of planned development has been insufficient because now that the zoning in the area is considered urban, only residents within 300 feet of a planned development must be notified. In an area with lot sizes typically in the 5 to 40 acre range, a 300 foot notice is insufficient.

Engage Residents
The ability for residents to provide feedback has also been insufficient. The county staff set up several meetings where they presented the same information about their plan, but they never allowed ample time for residents to provide feedback and ask questions. Presenting the same PowerPoint deck is not the same as providing a space for the public to provide meaningful feedback and collaborate on a plan that deeply impacts their quality of life. 

Also, the area does not have an active neighborhood association. Neighborhood associations are the most effective way for residents of unincorporated Clark County to get information from the county, and share perspectives. Residents are working to reactivate the neighborhood association, but it takes time and collaboration with the county. 

Ultimately, existing neighborhood residents are asking to be properly informed and have ample opportunity for feedback.

How Can You Help?

Submit public comments by 3/28/

Demand that the County:

  • Follow regulations related to concurrency and ensure that infrastructure exists before more development is approved in the area.
  • Release detailed plans on how and when they will acquire high-priority lands consistent with the 2022-2027 Natural Areas Acquisition Plan of the Legacy Lands Program (pages A-40 – A-41) prior to approving more development. 
  • Create a farm preservation district within the Whipple Creek subarea either within or bordering the 179th St Urban Holding Area consistent with the 2022-2027 Natural Areas Acquisition Plan of the Legacy Lands Program (pages A-40 – A-41).
  • Use notification standards from rural-zoned areas within the 179th St. Access and Management Plan Area.
  • Gather feedback from residents on a plan that will work for their community.

Prologis Park Update
       Heidi Cody, Co-Director of Alliance for Community Engagement (ACE)

Hello FOCC!

Just before the winter holidays, friends at LULAC notified Alliance for Community Engagement (ACE) about a large new warehouse called Prologis Park planned for the Fruit Valley Neighborhood (FVN). FVN residents hadn’t heard about Prologis Park, and the proposed warehouse’s public comment period was set to end Dec. 29th, 2022. Can you say hot potato?

ACE and LULAC went into a combined rapid-response effort. First, we requested information from the City. Prologis Park is already “vested” (approved) and, like seven other warehouses pending before the City, not covered by the City’s recent Warehouse Moratorium. In its proposal, Prologis had filed documents indicating that its 561,793 square foot warehouse would bring over 1,900 trucks a day through FVN and other neighborhoods–but claimed this traffic would not have negative impacts.

LULAC started informing FVN residents and notifying affected neighborhood associations. ACE wrote and solicited letters to the City requesting a change from its “Mitigated Determination of Nonsignificance” for Prologis Park, to a “Determination of Significance,” which would trigger a full Environmental Impact Statement and allow for more public input.

ACE, FOCC, LULAC, Community Roots Collaborative, Vancouver Audubon and neighborhood associations have equity concerns about this warehouse being built in a diverse, low-income neighborhood that is already overexposed to air pollution. Additional concerns include lack of adequate notification, noise levels and how pollution from trucks will affect waterways and birds. We don’t see how a warehouse with this many diesel trucks could align with the City’s recently adopted Climate Action Framework, which has a goal of 80% greenhouse gas emissions reductions city-wide by 2035 (12 years from now).

On Dec. 22, ACE, LULAC and FOCC submitted a letter to the City detailing our concerns about Prologis. The City responded by extending the project’s public comment period. At the time of writing, the City’s comment period for the Prologis Park warehouse proposal is still open. Comments can be sent directly to Mark Person, AICP Senior Planner at Meanwhile, Prologis is revising its warehouse proposal.

On Feb 7, The Columbian covered City Council’s vote to approve a six-month Warehouse Moratorium, (with an increase to warehouse size covered by the Moratorium to 250,000 square feet.) On Feb 8, KGW News followed up with “Vancouver Pumps the Brakes on Building Big Warehouses.” Then on Feb 16, Lauren Ellenbecker, The Columbian’s community-journalism funded Environmental Reporter, wrote an excellent piece called “Fruit Valley Residents Wary of Warehouse Plan.”

Mining in Clark County
     updates and issues


Washougal Pit
     Cathy Morton, Steigerwald Refuge Steward

The Washougal Pit has been the object of debate for years. Currently, owner Judith Zimmerly and operator Nutter Corp, are seeking permits from Clark County land use to conduct surface mining and material processing. This is being reviewed by the county. This location is within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area as well as close proximity to the Steigerwald Refuge. The Friends of the Columbia River Gorge and residents near the mine are involved in a lawsuit to stop this proposed mining. 

The concerns are breathtaking.

Water quality and habitat could be severely impacted by drainage from the mine activity. Runoff and spillage would carry heavy sand and silt into Gibbons Creek and then directly into Steigerwald refuge smothering salmon and trout habitat. It would also raise the temperature of the water leading to further environmental destruction.

Noise level from the proposed operation has been studied. The number of large trucks, their size, the proximity to neighborhoods has also been demonstrated by experts as above allowed levels. 

Steigerwald has undergone an extensive, award winning restoration the past couple of years. This area also incorporates one of the last stands of white oak which sits directly next to the pit. Recovery of salmon after the completion of the restoration work has been already deemed a success as there has been salmon spawning activity in Gibbons Creek for the first time in decades. 

Attorney for Friends of the Columbia River Gorge brought in expert testimony at the hearing on March 1. The focus was on noise levels and safe ground water protection for the Gibbons Creek and Steigerwald refuge. Residents of the nearby neighborhood also spoke up as well as community activists. 
Next steps: The hearings examiner is looking to have closing arguments from both sides (applicant and Friends of the Columbia River Gorge) by April 12. No date for a decision yet. All who testified will get a copy. Staff contact is Joe Daviau


Chelatchie Mine

In 2022 there  was a request to change the zoning in the Chelatchie area from forest 80 to a surface mining overlay. The area contains the headwaters of Cedar Creek, where many fish preservation projects have been installed. Cedar Creek is a spawning area for salmonids and other types of fish, many of which are endangered. Any interruption of the quantity and quality of Cedar Creek waters will be a serious impediment to the habitats there. 

Friends of Clark County appealed the mining overlay designation through our attorney David McDonald, to the WA State Growth Management Hearings Board. We are awaiting their decision now, expected by March 22nd. 


Cardai Hills Mining Overlay Request 

The people who live in the Cardai Hill neighborhood were alarmed to see notices for a mining proposal that was next to some of their properties going to the Planning Commission in two weeks. They frantically scrambled to revive their neighborhood association, which had been disbanded several years ago, and many wrote to the Planning Commission members and county councilors objecting to what would be a very intrusive operation. They were assisted by some other neighborhood association members and staff, and are now recognized and active.

It is always a benefit to have a neighborhood association established with the county so they can have a newsletter published and mailed by the county to reach every residence in that area. Being ready to deal with a new development by using the tools supplied by the county neighborhood outreach department is a huge asset when working to resolve problems that will affect the neighborhood.

This proposal was denied by the Planning Commission in a 3 to 2 vote. Don’t breathe easy though. Planning Commissions have been overridden before, and it is our experience that mining companies do not give up easily


Why know your Neighbors?
       Jan Kelly, Friends of Central Vancouver (FOCV)

When  I lived in the greater LA area,  like most during the mid 80’s I worked long hours, traveled for work and never knew who I lived next door too.  In the summer of 1992 I escaped that concrete jungle, I made a personal vow to myself never to live like that again.  From the time I left Southern California I have made it a point to get to know all my neighbors, have them over when I can for drinks, BBQs, movies, or Christmas Brunch.  Every community is built upon neighbors knowing each other, caring about each other, stepping up to help when help is needed.  In doing the simple things for our neighbors we  participate in building a strong community.

I have enjoyed living in Cedar 49 for about 21 years.  Many of those years I have organized the annual garage sale.  That means getting new signs made, frames for the signs built, and stored when not in use.  Designing and passing out flyers, taking donations toward the signs and advertising expense.  These simple tasks also provided me with the opportunity to meet all my neighbors.  While I may not know all of them, they all know about me.  I saved the names and contact info from the garage sale participants and created an old fashion phone tree.  As I explained to each of them, if I need to contact them for any reason, I want to be able to reach them.   The contact information will only be sued in an emergency situation by me.  Time will be of the essence.

Time passes and the needs of the community changed.  A new neighbor moved here from Dallas, Texas and she was amazed that we did not have a Facebook Page.  At the time I did not even know what Facebook was.  I said come on over and we will figure it out.  That small thing that began with us two neighbors has grown into a platform for virtual communication within our neighborhood.  Our Facebook page has well over 400 hundred people on it now.

I had another neighbor come over for coffee one day and she said that she was having a problem beginning a neighborhood watch program.  Our neighborhood was beginning to have things stolen out of vehicles at night and we needed to be proactive and do something about the situation.  After listening to her, I replied no worries I will find out about it, and we will organize a neighborhood meeting.  I engaged the phone tree, sent emails, printed flyers secured a meeting place. The result was our neighborhood watch platform was born and neighbors began watching out for one another.  The frequency of theft was reduced.  Our neighborhood safety improved, by simply getting to know our neighbors and watching out for each other.

National night out BBQ are a great way to celebrate the end of summer with your neighbors.  It is held on the first Tuesday evening of August.  Over the years we have held the BBQ in a few different places, but I live central in Cedar 49 and I have a yard and home that lends itself to this type of event easily.  Neighbors and friends join if they can, they bring a dish to share, we found a DJ that works for tips and a great time is had by all.  

Neighbors pitching in together have the power to create and maintain a wonderful environment, a safe neighborhood, and a paradise here on earth.  People ask how we could come together on such short notice to fight the concrete batch plant build once we learned of the plan.  We have a history of coming together.  We have a method of communicating among ourselves.  We are responsive to the neighborhood call to action, because everyone knows that I would not send out the call if it did not mean life, death or some other major emergency.  We are blessed in that many of us have certain defined skill sets that when united we become an awesome force with a singular goal.  In this case, we heeded the call to band together to fight for our continued good health, the safety of our children and beloved pets.   Many of us are seniors, we need to fight to maintain our property values in addition to maintaining our quality of life.  

Life without light and noise pollution is a blessing that drove many of us to relocated from the concrete jungle of city life to Clark County.  On a clear night to we can see the stars at night from our deck(s).  That special night show is a treat that many never get to view from outside their homes.  To have our nights so quiet that you can hear the frogs speak to each other with an open bedroom window brings peace to our slumber.  

To live in a neighborhood where folks wave hello as they drive by, or stop and chat with each other when they are out for a walk is a rare gift.  When any of us say hello to you and ask how are you doing?  We stand and wait for a response.  We do that because each of us is important to one another.  That is only being neighborly.

Our neighbors have a clear vision of what we hold dear, and what we enjoy each and every day here at our homes.  We will protect our families, our neighbors, our health, and our quality of life as best as we can.  In the case of the concrete batch plant, we all see it for the hazards it represents to us, and we stand united against it.  No doubt, no debate, firm resolve.  We shall remain vigilant in our watch.

Freight Rail Dependent Uses: FRDU


In 2018, the state legislature passed HB 5517. This bill included goofy language to limit it to 2 counties, one of which is Clark: any county located west of the Cascade mountains that has a population of at least 400,000 and a border that touches another state. (The other was Okanogan, with an equally odd description without actually naming either county). 

…may also include development of freight rail dependent uses on land adjacent to short line railroads in the transportation element of their comprehensive plans. Development regulations may be modified to include development of freight rail dependent uses that do not require urban governmental services in rural lands.

They did not define ‘adjacent’. They clearly did not intend sewer and other urban services to be extended. 

Fast forward to today

The County started work on their FRDU plan in 2018. That work stalled while the County and the Rail operator Portland Vancouver Junction Railroad (PVJR, owned by Eric Temple) fought out a lawsuit over the contract to operate the railroad. That lawsuit was settled, and a new contract signed, late last year. 

A work session was held on March 1st  to review the work that had been done before it was put on hold and discuss next steps. You can find the meeting minutes, video, and presentation here, scroll down to 3/1 meeting. 

The County has asked the PAs office (Chris Cook) to research if the County can legally provide services to the area along the rail that is outside the UGA and currently mostly ag land (Lagler farm in Brush prairie and environs). “Clearly the legislature didn’t mean that.”  If that comes back as a ‘no’ they intend to ask the legislature to fix that. Sue Marshall noted that providing services would induce sprawl. 

There was a recommended boundary for land that would/could be zoned for rail dependent development. Also there was a recommendation for what industrial development would be allowed. The Council asked for that information. 

The area between Battle Ground and the end of the line in Chelatchie was not included in the earlier work, but Council is clearly interested in extending there as well.  

Friends of Clark County believes in the value and benefits of railroad; however, FOCC does not support a broad definition of “freight dependent uses”, which could include hazardous materials, or freight that damages the property and environs extending broadly into areas on either side of the railroad. Nor does FOCC support any industry in IR zones that will or could cause damage to the quality of life within 5 miles of that industrial location.

We will be watching when this comes back to Council. 

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Friends of Clark County
PO Box 156
Ridgefield, WA 98642-0156

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