The Road Behind, and Ahead: Reviewing 2012, Anticipating 2013

As the year somes to a close, we reflect on our achievements this year and our anticipations for the next. For our final newsletter of the year, our staff compiled these lists of our Top Five successes for 2012, and Top Five Items to Watch in 2013. We hope you'll share your thoughts with us about what you expect in the coming year.

Our Top 5 Achievements for 2012

Southern Oregon Cities Adopt Regional Plan

After a decade of public engagement, research, and collaboration, the final Regional Problem Solving plan for six Jackson County cities has been adopted and approved at the local and state level. This plan will guide urban growth and development in the Bear Creek Valley for five decades, preserving priority farmland and encouraging cities to invest in transit-friendly, walkable neighborhoods. 1000 Friends Southern Oregon Advocate Greg Holmes has been active in the planning for many years, along with scores of other dedicated local residents and our affiliate organization, Rogue Advocates. Thanks to our input, the plan improved substantially to provide better protection for farmland and encourage smarter growth decisions in the cities. We were pleased when the state Land Conservation and Development Commission approved, or “acknowledged” the plan in November 2012, bringing a fruitful conclusion to this long process. This conclusion is a testament to the hard work of many people--thank you. Also this year, we were pleased to join Rogue Advocates in the Envision the Rogue Valley project, thinking about big questions for the region’s future with many local residents.

Launching Our Land Use Leadership Initiative

With a couple dozen emerging and established land use leaders from around Oregon participating, we were pleased to launch the inaugural year of our Land Use Leadership Initiative this year. From learning about issues affecting wineries in Yamhill County, to touring downtown Salem and the urban growth boundary in Washington County, to engaging discussions about transportation in Tigard and affordable housing in Portland, our LULI participants explored some of the key issues facing Oregon land use today, with some of the most experienced folks in Oregon to guide the way. They also made new connections with a diverse array of people, and discovered the crucial role land use planning plays in the fabric and future of this great state—lessons they’ll use as future leaders throughout the state. We enter 2013 with great excitement for the second year of this program. We’ll release a full report on the 2012 year in January; to learn more about the program this year, visit the blog at

Releasing the New Face of Farming report

After engaging in a series of frank conversations with agricultural professionals representing a wide variety of experiences, farm types, and regions all around Oregon, we were excited to release our New Face of Farming report this Spring. The message we heard was clear: Oregon farmers don’t view Oregon’s land use planning program as a barrier to their success. But they have important ideas for how to make sure it works for them and the success of farming as an enterprise. The things we heard are guiding our current and future work to protect the viability of Oregon’s second-largest industry—agriculture.  You can read the whole report and watch videos here. And be sure to check out our Field to Fork infographic celebrating Oregon agriculture—available here!

Taking Big Steps in Bend with Landmark Parks Bond

Voters in the Bend Parks and Recreation District made a resounding endorsement of the importance of parks and trails to their community’s livability and mobility this November, when they passed Measure 9-86. This $29 million bond that will create a truly world-class parks system in the City of Bend and its neighboring communities. From new trails and parks to safety improvements for river users, the measure will benefit all Bend-area residents and will no doubt improve the region’s attractiveness to entrepreneurs and tourists. It will also expand safe transportation choices for commuting, recreation, and errands in Bend, improving locals’ health and reducing air pollution from car trips. As Bend looks to reevaluate its urban growth boundary plans in 2013, this bond reminds leaders that residents want to prioritize investments in livability and sustainability within the existing city. In October, we helped educate local voters with a bike tour of proposed improvements—see photos and a recap here.

Securing Long-term Livability and Mobility in Eugene

Two events with major implications for the future of Eugene took place in 2012: the release of the important Envision Eugene plan and the reaffirmation by local leaders to pursue the West Eugene EmX bus rapid transit line. In 2011, 1000 Friends’ Willamette Valley Advocate Mia Nelson joined the City of Eugene in accepting a DLCD award for Envision Eugene’s public process. Throughout 2012, Nelson remained an outspoken supporter of Eugene transit’s future through EmX, even as some were trying to quash this important investment. With our input, Eugene is pursuing reasonable urban growth boundary expansion, coupled with an inspired community vision that it is now implementing. With our support, the City’s future looks as bright as ever.

Top 5 Things to Watch in 2013

Making Progress Toward Cool Communities in Metro

For several years Metro has been working on an ambitious and necessary project called “Climate Smart Communities,” a plan to employ land use and transportation strategies to improve local health and meet the state’s climate change goals. Called “scenario planning,” the process involves testing many strategies to identify what will have the biggest payoff for the local environment, economy, and quality of life.  Our Policy Director, Mary Kyle McCurdy, has been participating from Day One to keep the project on track, and our Outreach Director, Tara Sulzen, has worked to engage diverse communities in this process. 2013 will be a big year, as Metro Council will choose two to three scenarios to study in depth, and then work with local leaders to understand and anticipate the potential effects and advantages of each. Our team will continue to be involved through our Cool Communities program, and if you live in the Portland area, you should be, too!

Redefining Farm and Forest Land in Douglas, Josephine, and Jackson counties

At the very end of the 2012 legislative session an item was placed in the budget to set aside $550,000 for a “pilot project” to allow three counties the opportunity to re-define farm and forest land and to rezone land that no longer meets those definitions. The counties selected for the project are Jackson, Josephine, and Douglas. Despite the budget crisis the state is facing, this project was funded largely to appease critics of the land use program who would like to see it broken up, or “regionalized.” Euphemistically entitled the “Pilot Project for Regional Farm and Forest Land Conservation,” the project has the potential to do anything but conserve Oregon’s working landscapes. Read more about this project here. If you'd like to stay informed, please contact Greg Holmes at

Striking a Balance: Agritourism, Wine Country, and the Future of Farmland

We love Oregon wine, and rightly so: the industry’s contributions to our economy and international reputation continue to grow, bringing good jobs to rural areas and contributing millions of dollars to the state economy. Oregonians love visiting wine country, too, but the state has struggled to find a good balance between wine country as a working landscape and wine country as a backdrop for events and other commercial activities. Vineyard managers need the security to know they can engage in normal farming operations without risk of complaints from a wedding or concert, and they need to know they can get their products to processing and distribution facilities without needlessly getting stuck in traffic on narrow rural roads. Meanwhile, small business owners in wine country towns like Dundee and McMinnville are worried that more commercialism in the countryside harms the investments they’ve made, as visitors increasingly bypass these communities.  In the legislature this term, elected officials will once again take up this issue. We will be working to remind them that Oregon wine country succeeds because it is a place of work first and foremost—and if we forget that, we risk loving it to death. Our staff will be engaged in similar conversations about agritourism around the state.

Better Long-Term Growth Plan for Portland Metro?

This fall, 1000 Friends appealed Metro’s urban and rural reserves proposal for the Portland region, on behalf of three farmers whose livelihoods are directly threatened by an unjustified and unwise overreach for urban development on the fringes of Washington County. 1000 Friends has long defended this critical farmland, and also continues to urge regional leaders to invest instead in improving and filling in lands already inside the urban growth boundary. It's a matter of livability and sustainability, but also of wise use of taxpayer money, as our upcoming infrastructure report will show. We were one of several appellants with concerns about different areas of the region, and our appeal received significant coverage in local media. In January, the Oregon Court of Appeals will hear the case, and the long-term health and vitality of the Portland region hangs in the balance. Stay tuned for the results of this significant case.

“Zombie Freeway” Rises Again

Also in Washington County, we heard rumblings late in 2012 from a long-dead ghoul: the Westside Bypass, a proposal for a limited-access freeway cutting across a broad swath of some of the state’s best farmland, through Forest Park, and possibly across the Columbia River into Washington. The last time this proposal was seriously aired, nearly two decades ago, 1000 Friends sparked a regional discussion with our LUTRAQ study, culminating in a rejection of a freeway that would serve just part of the region in favor of more thoughtful transportation and land use investments that have paid great dividends for the entire region and state. Yet once again the multi-billion-dollar freeway spirit has clawed back to the surface, this time with a call for a study from a few Washington County interests. The study would be funded by Oregon taxpayers. We'll work to make sure that this zombie freeway gets a proper burial--maybe for good this time--and use the opportunity to have a more serious conversation about transportation in the region and the state. Learn more about why we oppose the Zombie Freeway, and the questions we should be asking instead.

We hope you will stand with us in 2013. If you'd like to get involved on any of these issues, or to keep informed on countless others as they arise, please fill out the form at

To stay informed on events as they happen, follow our Latest Items blog, or visit any of our regional office webpages: