When voters in the region approved a $227 million bond measure for natural areas in 2006, it came with an independent oversight committee to review how Metro invests taxpayer money.
Drake Butsch, the builder services manager at First American Title, is chairman of the oversight committee, which includes finance, real estate and habitat restoration experts. Butsch is also the board president of the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland and an avid angler.
Q: How did you get into fishing?
A: I grew up on the Oregon Coast. When kids played hooky in Newport, you borrowed your dad’s boat and you went and drifted the river.
Q: As the region grows, why are parks and nature important?
A: I think part of what makes Oregon and Portland what it is, is our access to nature. If anything has worked in our land-use system, it’s that we’ve done a good job of protecting the areas outside the (urban growth) boundary. But we still don’t protect them to the extent that Metro protects them. Metro protects them to a much higher level for their natural resource. When it comes to the stream corridors, which are the priority, we’re truly setting them up for success.
Q: What role does parks and nature play?
A: Acquiring a natural area is always the best way to protect it. We’re going to restore the natural state, create better drainage, better water, a better environment, even into the (urban growth) boundary.We’re so lucky to have so many streams in Portland. I’m a fisherman, and when I tell people I fish for salmon and steelhead within the urban growth boundary, they’shocked. I’ve been on a conference call with people in Washington, D.C. and told them, "Oh, I just saw someone pick a steelhead out of the river outside my office window,” they can’t believe it. We’re talking about a 35-pound fish caught in downtown Portland.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Metro spends a lot of time, effort and the voters’ money to create these parks. I include myself in a list of people who do not take advantage of those resources. How often do we drive to Mount Hood to walk on a trail when there are some within five miles of your home that are just as beautiful, with probably better facilities than you’re going to have in those areas?