Urban & Rural Reserves

Update: September 5, 2012: 1000 Friends is appealing the reserves plan to the Oregon Court of Appeals. Specifically, we are concerned about the process used by Washington County to designate rural and urban reserves on its revised map. For more info, click here to read a letter from our Executive Director describing our decision, or click here to read our press release announcing the appeal (pdf). Click here to see a listing of recent media stories on the appeal. We will update this page with further information as it becomes available. 

Background on Urban and Rural Reserves: Saving Farmland & Building Livable Communities 

farmers marketOregon is blessed with some of the world's best farmland. Agriculture in Oregon provides tens of thousands of jobs and healthy, locally grown food for farmers markets, restaurants and grocery stores. Oregon agricultural products are also exported around the world, making agriculture a critical element of the state's economy.

Managing urban growth makes our cities and towns more livable, reduces air and water pollution, increases our transportation options and helps prevent sprawl from gobbling up valuable farms, forests and natural areas. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by keeping our "carbon footprint" smaller.

Better Planning for a Better Future

The population of the Portland metropolitan region is expected to grow by one million people by the year 2030. Our region faces a tremendous challenge - how to provide future housing, jobs, schools, parks and other amenities and still maintain our cherished quality of life.

The 2007 Legislature gave the Portland region a potentially valuable new tool to shape our future: the ability to designate urban and rural reserves. Metro and the counties of Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington will jointly designate which land will be protected and which land will be developed over the next 40-50 years.

Urban and rural reserves could improve the existing process of urban growth boundary expansion by providing greater predictability for farmers, landowners and communities as to where future growth will occur - but only if we all participate in the decision-making.

We have a unique and important opportunity to shape the future of our region for generations. If done correctly, the decisions on urban and rural reserves will:

  • Protect our most valuable farm land from future development;
  • Ensure that future growth will support healthier communities and greater opportunities to walk, bike, and take transit for our transportation needs;
  • Help the region reduce the emissions that contribute to global warming pollution.

In 2010, Metro and the counties of Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington submitted their joint decision on urban and rural reserves to the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC). Unfortunately, Washington County's proposal envisioned including thousands of acres of valuable farmland as urban reserves, and 1000 Friends and our allies challenged this proposal before the state. In October 2010, the state Land Conservation and Development Commission agreed with 1000 Friends' appeal, and remanded the Washington County reserves map.

Area north of Council Creek near Cornelius, listed as undesignated on the reserves map. 1000 Friends believes this area should be a Rural Reserve, with Council Creek as the buffer. (Image looking south, courtesy Washington County Farm Bureau.)

In April 2011, the Washington County Urban and Rural Reserves process entered a new phase, as a new reserves map was jointly approved by Metro Council and the Washington County Board of Commissioners. In August 2011, LCDC approved the revised map, and in summer 2012, released its written approval.

In September 2012, 1000 Friends appealed the reserves plan to the Oregon Court of Appeals. Click here to read a letter from our director explaining why.

Thank you to all who have participated in this process and shared concerns about the new map.

The documents below contain additional detail about the areas we are particularly concerned about.

Read Policy Director Mary Kyle McCurdy's April 2011 testimony to Metro Council outlining our concerns.

Read the objections 1000 Friends and coalition partners submitted to DLCD in June 2011. 

Read our exceptions to DLCD's Director Report, issued in late July 2011, which recommended that LCDC approve the proposed reserves map.

Media on our Appeal:

Other Resources about Urban and Rural Reserves:

Metro's Reserves web site

Clackamas County's reserves web site

Multnomah County's reserves web site

Washington County's reserves web site

List of Agriculture and Natural Resource Coalition Members