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State Buries Slide Risk? Not digging that hole might get you buried

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Real research means digging deeply and not all holes you dig are perilous ones. Some might save your life.

Oregonian, Jan.20th, 2008, State Keeps Slide Risk to Itself, by Michael Milstein.

Excerpts from article:

“State geologists predicted the landslide that crushed homes and severed U.S. 30 west of Clatskanie, but the state shelved the information partly because of concerns it would interfere with land development.

The prediction was spelled out in the form of landslide hazard maps that state geologists drew up for all of western Oregon after landslides killed five people in 1996. The maps labeled most of the area involved in last month’s U.S. 30 slide as posing “very high” or “extreme” landslide hazard — the highest possible categories of risk.

The landslide maps were among the most advanced of their kind at the time they were produced, Burns and other geologists said. When scientists checked the maps against evidence of historic landslides, they found that the maps correctly identified more than 90 percent of the areas buried in slide debris.

Cities and counties complained the maps were too general and included too much area. They quickly came to view the maps as a regulatory burden that could anger landowners and hurt property values. That was compounded by growing concern — later embodied in the Measure 37 property rights debate — that governments might have to compensate landowners if regulations took away use of their land.

The maps are now available only on an obscure state Web site — www.coastalatlas.net — that Hofmeister and another state employee worked on at night and on weekends.
“Even geotechnical engineers don’t know it’s there,” he said….”

Whole article, here.

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