EPA has selected Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments, and coalition partners – the cities of Newport and Toledo, the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians, and Lincoln County – for two brownfields environmental site assessment grants totaling $600,000. With this funding, the coalition will assess up to 30 brownfield sites as an initial step towards cleaning up and redeveloping vacant and underutilized properties, transforming them into assets for both the community and the local economy while protecting public health and the environment.
“EPA is committed to working with communities to redevelop Brownfields sites which have plagued their neighborhoods. EPA’s Assessment and Cleanup grants target communities that are economically disadvantaged and include places where environmental cleanup and new jobs are most needed,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These grants leverage considerable infrastructure and other investments, improving local economies and creating an environment where jobs can grow. I am very pleased the President’s budget recognizes the importance of these grants by providing continued funding for this important program.”
The Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments and coalition partners grant funding will include $300,000 to assess sites contaminated with hazardous substances, and $300,000 to assess sites contaminated with petroleum. Grant funds of both types also will be used to prioritize brownfield sites, create two area-wide plans, and support community involvement activities.
Assessment activities will focus on developed areas within the Yaquina River watershed in Newport and Toledo, and unincorporated areas of Lincoln County. Coalition partners are the Cities of Newport and Toledo, the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians, and Lincoln County.
Our coalition formed to address unique economic challenges and opportunities in our diverse, beautiful, rural, and coastal Oregon county,” said Fred Abousleman Executive Director of OCWCOG. “We are honored to be chosen by EPA in recognition of the vision of the county, Tribe, and community partners to address barriers to available developable land, help stabilize local economies, and move to mitigate environmental issues. This project is part of a larger local and regional vision to increase economic capacity and to strengthen and celebrate the quality of life that makes our communities so desirable.”
Lincoln County is a federal and state designated economically distressed area with a high level of poverty, low wages associated with a reliance on the tourism industry, which often offers unstable hours and job security, based on external economic factors. The area faces many social, environmental, and economic challenges.
To address these challenges, the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments, Lincoln County, City of Newport, City of Toledo, and Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians have formed a coalition to collaboratively strengthen the local economy by attracting new, diverse industries with a particular focus on the industrial and marine science employment sectors. Brownfields, including shuttered wood products manufacturing plants, boatyards, and commercial properties impede this vision of a shift to a stable economic base.
Affordable housing has been identified as a high community priority and will be a focus area for the grant funding project. To date, 127 priority brownfields have been identified, a number of which are adjacent to the Yaquina River, threatening water quality, aquatic organisms and critical fisheries such as, salmon and shellfish. Addressing these brownfields will help protect water quality, and threatened and endangered species. Additionally, by protecting the essential ecosystem functions of the Yaquina watershed, the coalition’s efforts will also protect the economy associated with sport fishing and water based recreation for the area and the people and communities that rely on it.
Brownfields assessment and cleanup grants target communities with significant distress. These communities are economically disadvantaged — neighborhoods where environmental assessment, cleanup and new jobs are most needed for residents that have historically been left behind.
The Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments is one of 172 communities selected nationally for new brownfields assessment and cleanup funding in 2017. Across the country, $56.8 million in funding will be granted.
For more information about Brownfields Cleanup and Assessment Grants: www.epa.gov/brownfields
Information provided by the EPA