Thanks to the continued generosity of our supporters, 1000 Friends has leveraged resources to establish the Circuit Rider Program, a new program focused on rural land use advocacy.

The term ‘Circuit Rider’ comes from the title that was given to early judges and attorneys who traveled from town to town - in sparsely populated rural areas - holding court in each town’s circuit. Their travel was referred to as “riding the circuit.” Although few judges ride the circuit today, Oregon still has rural areas with limited access to legal resources, including those relating to the land use program that specifically protects those rural areas.

1000 Friends developed the Circuit Rider program for several reasons:

First, to return to its roots of using litigation to enforce Oregon’s land use program, with specific focus on farm and forest land protection.

Second, and just as important, to engage with people who otherwise do not interact with the land use system, and find creative, progressive solutions to rural land use problems.  

The Circuit Rider’s focus on rural and underserved communities is integral to Friends’ overall goals and strategies. Our family farms and forest lands are pillars of Oregon’s economy, and they need to be protected from sprawl and incompatible uses. This work goes hand in hand with our efforts to encourage smart urban growth, an orderly transition from urban to rural, and limited but equitable use of rural lands.  The Circuit Rider program works to protect uses that support the rural economy and its participants, from owners to employees, while preserving Oregon’s iconic landscapes and special places.

Our Circuit Rider Staff Attorney is Meriel Darzen. She is looking forward to hearing from rural Oregonians. If you have a rural land use issue, please feel free to contact her at 541-797-6761 or

Photo Credit: Ian Sane Photography