The tension between development and preserving nature is a struggle faced by businesses and environmentalists around the world. It is a conflict not immune to even liberal Eugene. Pushes from developers to build houses along the protected 26acre Amazon Headwaters Keystone have been in discussion since 2012. While the East Forks Amazon Headwaters are permanently protected, the Deerbrooke PUD is now under siege. The neighborhood council of Southeast Eugene is working tirelessly to maintain natural area and continue its preservation.
I spoke with Kevin Matthews, president of the Southeast Eugene neighborhood association. At around 50 years old Mathews’ passion for helping Southeast Eugene shines through brightly. This morning on April 13th, Mathews spoke directly to the community. On a one-hour walk, twenty community members walked along Amazon trail and listened to Mathews’ view on why the terrain should be preserved. From the walk, I learned that demolishing Amazon Creek for more housing would not only change the natural, Pacific Northwest feel of the neighborhood, but also affect all the species that depend on the river and around it. The Amazon Headwater Keystone is the last remaining undeveloped area that runs directly to Amazon Creek, making it an essential area from any ecosystem.
Furthermore, Mathew’s spoke to the fact that developing houses in this area would cause changes in the size of the storm flows into Amazon Creek because a loss in vegetation allows for less water retention and more river sedimentation. This could potentially lead to landslides and cause damage to the new houses and their inhabitants, along with the environment.
At the morning walk I talked with University of Oregon junior, Jaclyn Rushing, a member of the UO Running Club and environmental studies major. Rushing stressed the importance of having areas to run that are not on pavement or in the line of cars. While Rushing is not a member of the Southeast neighborhood, about half her runs include trails that run alongside Amazon Creek or the Headwaters. In her eyes, more housing developments would be detrimental to the environment and to the running club of Eugene. Amazon Creek is the second largest waterway in Eugene, and its preservation means a preservation of a part of Eugene.
Some however are not as aware of the potentially detrimental housing developments. Jen Reed, a forty year old mother living across from Amazon Park was not aware that developers are once again fighting for land, but showed concern when I brought it to her attention.