Category Archives: FrogBlog

I and I report

Link to Molalla I and I report: http://www.cityofmolalla.com/sites/default/files/fileattachments/public_works/page/1642/2016-0209_final_2015_molalla_annual_ii_report.pdf

What Kinds of Frogs & Amphibians do You Have in Your Local Pond or Wetland?

20150211scp Have You Seen This Frog, MolallaPioneer article by Peggy SavageIn a project coordinated by Molalla River Watch and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), volunteers are surveying amphibian egg mass surveys in Clackamas County. So, if you have a pond or wetlands on your property, or know of a place and want to find out what lives there, help the experts know where to look.

You may even have Western Pond Turtles. Yet another reason to protect our streams, and manage our wastewater.

Details and contacts in this Molalla Pioneer article by Peggy Savage. See also this Press Release from Molalla River Watch, Inc.

February 4: Planning Commission to Consider Proposal to Increase Density for a 5-acre Parcel (P44-2014, at 1118 Toliver Rd.)

20150201cpy.. 1118 Toliver cropped taxmapThe Molalla Planning Commission meets at 6:30PM, on Wednesday February 4th, at City Hall. At this meeting, they will again hear a proposal that was tabled in early January, on a proposal to rezone a parcel in northwest Molalla, to allow high-density residential development.

The site is a single-family residential property measuring nearly six acres total. The property is roughly triangular. A long curve of the abandoned Molalla Forest Road is to the southwest, the Elementary School is to the east, and Toliver Road is to the north.

The development proposal is being handled by Frank Walker, for the Donald Itschner family estate. The site is relatively level, with a small yard and garden area near the house and shop building. Roughly half of the property is in mature deciduous forest. It is adjacent to a school, a ballfield, and an abandoned corridor (the historic Molalla Forest Road). There is a small creek running through the center of the property. As is typical of the area, there are wetlands with soils that are seasonally saturated with water.20150201scp.. 1118 Toliver Molalla, Google Map with outline of entire propertyAs shown on the Google satellite image below, the property (orange ellipse) is one of the only natural and forested areas within walking distance of hundreds of densely packed homes to the north (large area outlined in red). There are no parks serving this large subdivision area.20150201scp.. Google Map with markups for 1118 Toliver, large area view Here are three close-up satellite views, from Google Maps. The first shows the home/garden in the northern portion of the property. The second shows most of the southern portion of the property. The third shows the western half of the apartment complex to the north, in the middle of the large Molalla subdivision area; this is what high density development would look like, if the City approves the zoning change.:20150201scp.. 1118 Toliver Molalla, Google Map of northern portion of property20150201scp.. 1118 Toliver Molalla, Google Map of middle portion of property20150201scp.. Meadow Drive Apts Molalla, Google Map of western portion of property

A Better Plan

The location and natural qualities of this property make it an absolute no-brainer for the City of Molalla. We need to develop this property as a valuable asset for this area: a corridor trail to serve the community with parks, recreation, and wildlife habitat. City of Molalla should work toward acquiring most or all of this property. Generous grants are available (from both state and federal sources), but the City needs to provide the see money for those grants. Thus, the City should NOT be granting property tax emptions, as the City Council did on January 28th for ‘Pacific Fibre Products, Inc.’.

The City’s goals should be to:

  1. preserve the forest area as a refreshing wildlife habitat and nature-viewing area;
  2. develop picnic and play facilities on the non-forested southern portion of the parcel;
  3. make minimal improvements to the Molalla Forest Road between Highway 213 and Highway 211, as a bicycle and pedestrian corridor, to accommodate the recreational needs of area residents;
  4. over time, pursue expansion of this bicycle and pedestrian corridor, using the historic Molalla Forest Road, all the way to the Molalla River Recreation Area.

See also:

January 2015: A ‘Letter to Editor’ to Molalla Pioneer, regarding MPC Hearing & Wetlands Near Toliver Road

…the following is Susan Hansen’s Letter to the Editor, sent to the Molalla Pioneer…

Molalla’s usual haphazard planning, putting developers’ demands above sound and orderly planning and zoning, is on display with the proposal to re-zone a Toliver Road parcel from single family to multi-family.

City Manager Huff claims that Molalla needs more multi-family. If that is true, why did Huff advocate to re-zone a big chunk of land in Big Meadow from multi-family to single family this summer? In sound urban planning, multi-family is integrated into residential areas so traffic filters out onto multiple neighborhood feeder roads. The property on Toliver would dump multi-family traffic onto already busy Toliver, right next to the Grade School.

The Toliver property hosts wetlands outlined on Molalla’s official Wetland Inventory (BC-6A). Before any development can occur, a property owner must hire wetlands experts to produce a wetland delineation report and submit it to the Division of State Lands. How can Molalla’s Planning Commission make an informed decision about re-zoning to multi-family before that required study is submitted and approved? No one knows how much of the subject property could actually be developed and what constrictions will be imposed because of the wetlands.

The subject property’s wetlands are part of a 10 acre Toliver Road to Main Street wetlands complex that feed Bear Creek. The Inventory notes the wetlands have high enhancement potential, provide wildlife habitat and have potential for educational use and recreational activities. The wetlands feature a mature forest of Oregon white oak and ash. A segment of the Forest Road runs though these wetlands and the area would make a fantastic park for the woefully underserved west side of Molalla.

Molalla’s Comp Plan Goal 5 (pages 16-17 “Water Resources”) states: “Maintain natural wildlife corridors along protected creeks and drainage ways; Give priority to preservation of contiguous parts of that network which will serve as natural corridors throughout the city for the protection of watersheds and wildlife; Conserve significant trees and vegetation within protected water resource areas…”

Will Molalla respect the value of the wetlands by following its Water Resources mandate and step up to provide quality of life enhancing parks? Or will Molalla’s unthinking, greedy march to stuff in ill planned development continue unabated?

A hearing on Feb. 4 will consider what path to take; citizen input is critical.

Thank you, Molalla Pioneer, for printing this letter in the 1/28/2015 print edition.

The Public Needs Transparency in MSTP Reports

With transparency, citizens can know how well their public employees are serving. Thus, if the Molalla Sewage Treatment Plant (MSTP) is well run, transparency lets us know, so we can be confident and appreciative of a job well done. But, if the Molalla Sewage Treatment Plant is poorly run, transparency empowers citizens to put pressure on elected officials to correct problems, and restore needed efficiencies. Unfortunately, when it comes to sewage services, the leadership of Molalla has a history of impeding transparency.

As a case in point, consider how poorly MSTP handled transparency eight years ago, when they signed a Consent Decree. MSTP was required to post weekly data reports for the two-year duration of the Consent Decree. They failed. Only a few of the weekly reports and some of the monthly reports were posted. Years later, the website was changed making it difficult to find the report copies. (click here to view all reports as copied on 1/25/2015)

Anyway, here’s the background on transparency failures with the Consent Decree of 2006…


In late May 2006, multiple groups and individuals filed a civil action against the City of Molalla charging violations in waste handling at the Molalla Sewage Treatment Plant. Roughly eight months later, a settlement was reached between the parties, in the form of a Consent Decree. The key terms of this Consent Decree, which remained in effect for two years, included:

  • For two years, City of Molalla would do additional weekly water testing at the following locations: (para.16)
    1. the Feyrer Park Bridge
    2. immediately upstream of the City’s Molalla River outfall
    3. at the downstream edge of the mixing zone, which is 50 feet downstream of the City’s Molalla River outfall
    4. the Highway 211 bridge
    5. the point where Fryer Park Road crosses the irrigation ditch
    6. and, at the point where the City’s effluent pipeline crosses the irrigation ditch.
  • When conducting these additional weekly water tests, City of Molalla would use grab samples to analyze for Biological Oxygen Demand (BODS), total suspended solids, ammonia, e-coli, temperature, and pH. (para.16)
  • For two years, City of Molalla would post data on its website. This would include both the weekly analysis results at the above six locations, and the monthly/quarterly MSTP monitoring reports filed with DEQ, in accordance with the NPDES Permit. (para.16)
  • City of Molalla would pay $6,324 in civil penalties (para.22)
  • City of Molalla would pay $50,000 in legal fees (para.24)
  • City of Molalla would pay $110,000 to fund a supplemental environmental project administered by Molalla Riverwatch (para.23)

And how well did the City of Molalla do? Well, some of the monthly reports were posted online, and some of the additional weekly water test results were posted, too. So, during some times of the two year Consent Decree, citizens were able to see the data. But the data was spotty. And, unfortunately, once the two year requirement of the Consent Decree was done, Molalla quit posting their monthly reports.

January 28 Molalla City Council Meeting: Bear Creek Issues on the Agenda

At 7:00pm on Wednesday, January 28th, the Molalla City Council and the Molalla Urban Renewal Agency (MURA) will conduct Regular and Executive Meetings. The public is invited to attend the Regular Meeting sessions, which will be held at the Adult Center.

(click on image to learn more at the cityofMolalla.com website)

(click on image to learn more at the cityofMolalla.com website)

In preparation, the City of Molalla posted two large PDF documents, which can be viewed/downloaded via these links:

Bear Creek Recovery reviewed the documents. Three items were found that relate to the BCR mission: a scope/budget approval for contract work related to NPDES, spending approval of seven flow meters to monitor sewer I&I, and proposed tax abatement for Pacific Fibre Products, Inc. Two of these items were already approved; the third item is proposed. Details and links are provided below:

(1) Brown & Caldwell Project Scope:

NOTE: NPDES stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. This is a federal system managed by the U.S. EPA, to ensure proper management and handling of pollutants so that water quality is protected. An NPDES permit is required before wastewater can be discharged into Bear Creek or the Molalla River. Application of sewage sludge (aka, biosolids) on farmland and other sites, is also subject to federal guidelines.
This issue was brought up at the 12/17/2014 Molalla City Council meeting, and approved.

(click on image to view entire 12/17/2014 draft meeting minutes)


(2) MSTP Flow Meters for I&I:

NOTE: ‘I & I’ is inflow and infiltration. Both terms refer to the invasion of extra and unwanted water into the raw sewage flow. Infiltration is water that leaks via poor pipe seals or pipe fractures. Inflow is the addition of rainwater and other liquids that is improperly piped into the sewer lines. An ‘I&I Analysis’ is done to assess the quality of a sewer system in terms of leakage.
This issue was brought up at the 1/14/2015 Molalla City Council meeting, and approved.
20150114scp.. Molalla City Council, draft minutes, scrap re I&I flow meters contract approval

(click on image to view entire 1/14/2015 draft meeting minutes)


(3) Proposed Tax Abatement for Pacific Fibre:

NOTE: The following was included in the 1/14/2015 ‘City Manager’s Report’:20150114scp.. Molalla City Council, draft minutes, scrap re Pacific Fibre tax abatement proposalThis proposal seeks to continue to waive tax payments for a company operating in Molalla. In trade, the company is to pay new employees at a high wage level, IF they hire any new employees. Molalla forgoes tax revenues in exchange for what is potentially (?likely?) zero benefit.
The proposal is listed cryptically on the agenda, as a ‘5 year enterprise zone agreement’, with no mention of the company involved, or the impacts of that company (both positive and negative). A city deficient in parks and behind on  maintaining and upgrading it’s sewers  is thus giving away needed funds.
Is this a local example of ‘Crony Capitalism‘? Will the City Council reject this bad idea? Will they ask the hard questions on Wednesday, or do citizens need to speak up?
Here’s a link to an analysis by BCR.

What is BCR’s History & Mission?
Bear Creek Recovery (BCR) formed in 2013, when a handful of Molalla-area citizens resolved to work to restore Bear Creek. Their Mission is to inform other citizens about Bear Creek, and help steer government officials toward decisions that reinvigorate the health and value of Bear Creek.

Welcome to the BCR website!

Bear Creek starts in the highlands southeast of Molalla, and flows through the south side of Molalla, to Rock Creek and the Pudding River south of Aurora.

Sadly, this creek has been neglected, contaminated, and all but killed. The maps, data, documents and other records compiled on this website are provided to inform the Public, to help us all work together for a healthy Bear Creek and a vibrant community.

To learn more, please explore this public service website. Check out the information posted in the FrogBlog. Use the search function to locate PDF copies and documents (for viewing, or to download) related to Bear Creek issues. See also the links in the Menu Bar at the top of this page.

And please let us know what other information you feel needs to be researched and shared.

BCR Public Meeting at 7PM, on January 21

Oregon red legged frog picBear Creek Recovery will host a meeting on January 21st , 7pm at the Molalla Library.

The main feature will be a discussion of agricultural water rights and agricultural water practices, by representatives from the Oregon Water Master and Clackamas County Soil and Water.

Everyone is welcome to attend to have their questions about water use answered by experts. Visit Bear Creek Recovery.org or call 503-789-7179 for more information.