Update from the Circuit

Meriel Darzen

Six months with 1000 Friends

Hello from snowy Bend! Six months ago I began work as the Circuit Rider Staff Attorney for 1000 Friends. In this short time I have met people from all over the state and worked on many interesting land use issues. As the Circuit Rider, it is my job to monitor land use actions that impact rural lands, including farm and forestlands, and make sure that counties are applying state land use law in a way that upholds the intent of the Statewide Land Use Goals. I also work closely with the 1000 Friends Farmers Advisory Committee to advocate for better land use protections for working farms. Here is an overview of what I’ve been up to so far:

  • Engaged with 1000 Friends’ local affiliate groups in Yamhill, Polk, Hood River, Douglas, Coos, Curry, Clatsop, Deschutes, and Jackson counties.
  • Met with and supported individuals on local land use actions occurring in Yamhill, Hood River, Jackson, Lake, Deschutes, Douglas, Columbia, Coos, Clatsop and Curry counties.
  • Collected data on every land use decision on farmland and forestland since 2010 and launched a GIS-mapping project to plot and analyze where resource lands are most impacted by land use applications. (Results forthcoming!)
  • Worked with our Farmers Advisory Committee to analyze impacts of solar energy development on farmlands, submitted a letter to Land Conservation and Development Commission asking for rules to be more protective of high-value farmland, and presented oral testimony on solar at the LCDC meeting in Redmond.
  • Reviewed and commented on proposed legislation affecting farmland and forestland.
  • Worked on maintaining and updating the Cooperating Attorney Program (CAP), our volunteer attorney program, and recruited new CAP attorneys for upcoming land use appeals.

That’s just a sample! In addition, every day I review land use proposals affecting rural lands from around the state, evaluate potential appeals, and talk with advocates about how they can access the land use process in their own counties. If you live in a rural county or have a land use issue involving farms or forests, I’d love to hear from you!

In the meantime, Happy Winter!

Meriel

Circuit Rider Staff Attorney