A case analysis of Oregon's Willamette River Greenway Program Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/5138jh17p

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  • The Willamette River Greenway Program was created by an act of the Oregon Legislature in 1968 and modified by a second act in 1973. The purpose of the program was to protect the natural environment of the river from approximately the foot of the Cascade Range near Eugene, north to the Columbia River confluence, a river distance of 204 miles; while opening up additional parts of the river environment for outdoor recreation use. From its inception the Willamette River Greenway Program was immersed in controversy. Rural property owners along the river objected to the program chiefly on account of its provision for public outdoor recreation. Urban dwellers tended to support the goals of the program. However, even in their case objections were raised regarding limitations on industrial development and urban expansion along the river. This thesis examines the Willamette River Greenway Program from the middle l960s, when the idea for a greenway was first proposed, through December 31, 1978. Specific questions addressed by this thesis are (1) How and why did the program develop as it did? (2) What were the major issues? How were these issues resolved? (3) Who were the principal actors? What were their roles? (4) How might the program have been (and still be) improved to bring about a greater realization of greenway objectives? (5) What can be learned about this program that would aid in implementation of similar programs in other areas? and (5) How do these findings relate to some commonly held theories in the social, political, and environmental fields? The analysis divides the program into three broad phases: (1) State and federal grants-in-aid to local government for land acquisition along the river (1967-1972); (2) State-local partnership in Willamette River Greenway planning (1973-1975); and (3) joint State administration of the greenway program and integration with local comprehensive planning (1975-1978). Each phase is introduced by a major legislative or administrative action affecting the direction of the greenway program. The analysis concludes that the Willamette River Greenway Program has been a limited success at best. The reasons for this are complex, but in general they stem from conflicts inherent in the patterns of land ownership and land use along the Willamette River at the time the program was created; from a failure on the part of policy makers early in the program to look objectively at conditions along the river and to examine the requirements for a successful program in light of the methods advanced to satisfy the program's objectives; from neglect of the political element in the program's formative stages; from mistakes on the part of the program's principal administrative agency, the Oregon Department of Transportation; and from deficiencies in the greenway legislation and in other related legislation that might have been of assistance in furthering the objectives of the greenway program. The relationship of events in the Willamette River Greenway Program to general systems theory and dialectical theory is discussed in detail. The analysis suggests that, while each of these theories by itself is able to provide no more than a partial explanation of events in the greenway program, a synthesis of these two theories might provide a more complete explanation.
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