Over the past three decades, Oregonians have come to recognize the degree to which human activity has changed the landscape of our state and affected the fish and wildlife populations. Many efforts to address concerns about species declines have been crisis-driven, focused on individual species, and contingent on available funds.

At the same time, there is a growing recognition among researchers, agencies, and land managers that nature works on many scales. Effectively conserving populations of native species requires strategic and varied approaches that address species and their habitats across broad landscapes as well as local sites.

Responsibility for fish and wildlife conservation planning and regulatory programs is shared by many agencies, organizations, institutions, and individuals. In fact, there are so many entities involved that it is not feasible to describe all of their efforts here. This section addresses activities and responsibilities of state and local government entities and includes larger-scale public/private efforts to plan for and conserve fish, wildlife, and their habitats.

Oregon’s Planning Efforts

Numerous planning efforts have identified priority species, habitats, and actions within Oregon. Plans have been completed at local, state, and regional levels by agencies, coalitions, and non-governmental organizations. These plans have differed in their purposes, goals, and scales of analysis. These processes, as well as more localized efforts, have built the knowledge base and relationships that set the stage for establishment of a state conservation strategy. The Strategy builds upon these existing efforts with the goal of providing an overarching framework for conservation in Oregon.

Creative planning work has been done at all levels. Plans are produced by federal, state, and local public agencies, private land managers, regional bodies, and local, regional, or watershed volunteer groups. Many agencies have built collaborative alliances and are streamlining processes while investing public funds more frugally and wisely. Oregon’s land use planning program provides a consistent framework for local governments to assess open space and natural area protection.

Many current and recent plans have focused on solving an individual problem, or managing individual species, habitats, or geographical areas. The result is a collection of plans with limited coordination and limited means of addressing landscapes. The broad umbrella of the Strategy offers an opportunity to increase coordination of plans, thereby knitting together efforts across purposes, entities, and scales.

Although the Strategy takes a large-scale view of Oregon’s conservation needs, implementation of Strategy priorities will occur at the local level. Linking to local planning and restoration efforts will be an effective way to work toward the Strategy’s goals, while providing a greater context and recognition for the efforts of communities. For example, watershed assessments and action plans provide one such opportunity to build bridges across efforts. A number of watershed councils and other local groups have conducted watershed assessments to evaluate the current health and functional values of the watershed in light of historical conditions. The assessments identify conditions that limit aquatic production and function in particular geographic areas. Many groups have developed an action plan for restoration and protection based on their assessment’s findings. Implementation of the Strategy will bring technical assistance, improved access to incentive programs, and landscape approaches to complement local knowledge and priorities.

Listed below are some of the major planning efforts for Oregon. This list is not meant to be comprehensive, as there are many plans available, but rather represents the major efforts consulted during development of this Strategy. A few of these efforts are currently in development. For these, either draft plans were reviewed or ODFW Strategy staff met with other planning staff.

Major Statewide Planning Efforts in Oregon

Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds

In 1997, when several stocks of Oregon salmon were proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act, state officials launched an effort to avoid the listing and its many negative consequences by creating a recovery program unique to Oregon. It has evolved into a broad-scale effort that involves an extensive array of private and public partners and restoration efforts at all scales of government, society, and natural systems.

The Oregon Plan uses funding from the OWEB to create a framework for watershed restoration, salmon recovery, and improvements in water quality. More than $20 million, primarily derived from lottery funds, is channeled each year through OWEB to a wide variety of voluntary activities across the state that support the Oregon Plan’s four primary components:

  • Voluntary restoration actions by private landowners
  • Coordination between state, federal, and tribal agencies
  • Monitoring watershed health, water quality, and salmon recovery
  • Scientific oversight by an independent panel of scientists who evaluate the plan’s effectiveness, identify needed changes, and guide research investments

Most of the plan’s focus is on actions to improve water quality and quantity and restore habitat. Watershed councils and Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) are the primary facilitators of restoration efforts among local landowners. Many watershed groups have developed detailed, specific local conservation assessments.

The Oregon Gap Analysis Project

The Gap Analysis Program (GAP) brought together the problem-solving capabilities of federal, state, and private scientists to tackle the difficult issues of land cover mapping, vertebrate habitat characterization, assessment, and biodiversity conservation at the state, regional, and national levels. The program seeks to facilitate cooperative development and use of information. For more information on the national GAP program, see the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The Oregon Gap Analysis Program began work in 1988, as the second GAP program in the nation. It was a collaborative, multi-partner effort to map and analyze vegetation, land ownership, land management, and species distribution. The major goals were to:

  • Produce GIS-databases describing actual land cover type, historical land cover type, terrestrial vertebrate species distributions, land stewardship, and land management status at a scale of 1:100,000.
  • Identify land cover types and terrestrial vertebrate species that currently are not represented or are under-represented in areas managed for long-term maintenance of biodiversity (i.e., “gaps”).
  • Facilitate cooperative development and use of information so that institutions, agencies, and private land owners may be more effective stewards of Oregon’s natural resources. The development of the stewardship coverage and the species distribution databases has improved the ability for others to do statewide and local assessments. The Oregon Biodiversity Information Center (ORBIC), formerly the Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center (ORNHIC), has continually updated the managed area cover and the species distribution databases to provide crosswalks between the new wildlife habitat models and any new vegetation or land cover maps that become available.
The Oregon Biodiversity Project

The Oregon Biodiversity Project was a privately-initiated, collaborative effort envisioned in the early 1990s and launched in 1994 to develop a statewide strategy for conserving biodiversity. This private-sector endeavor engaged public agencies, private organizations, and a broad array of stakeholders to develop a statewide biodiversity assessment and strategy, which was completed in 1996. In contrast to the conventional approach of addressing endangered species individually, this was an effort to address biodiversity issues more broadly across political boundaries, using computer mapping technology, satellite imagery, and principles of conservation biology. The project was led by the West Coast Office of Defenders of Wildlife in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Natural Heritage Program, and a variety of public and private sector partners. The Oregon Biodiversity Project’s primary goal is to develop a pragmatic statewide strategy to conserve Oregon’s native biodiversity. The Biodiversity project was intended to reduce the risk of future endangered species designations, and give landowners more flexibility in resource management decisions. The project also has sought to establish a process to improve communication among diverse public and private interests and to help people find common ground in resource management decisions. The result was Oregon’s Living Landscape: Strategies and Opportunities to Conserve Biodiversity, and other associated products. Oregon’s Living Landscape described the issues in each ecoregion, identified priority species and habitats, and identified priority conservation areas. For more information on its development, see this background document.

ODFW Wildlife Diversity Plan

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted the Oregon Wildlife Diversity Plan in November 1993 and updated it in January 1999. This plan sets forth the goal, objectives, strategies, sub-strategies, and program priorities for ODFW’s Wildlife Conservation Program. Although the focus of this plan is on nongame species, it addresses all fish and wildlife species, both game and nongame. In addition to being a policy document to guide the Wildlife Diversity Program actions, the Oregon Wildlife Diversity Plan is also a reference document containing biological information on fish and wildlife species in the state, habitat information (organized by physiographic provinces), and summaries of state and federal laws and programs affecting fish and wildlife and their habitats.

Oregon Department of Transportation Mitigation and Conservation Bank Strategy

Many local, state, and federal regulatory processes include mitigation requirements for unavoidable impacts to protected resources. Mitigation usually includes restoration, creation, or enhancement of the impacted resource. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has developed a comprehensive mitigation and conservation banking strategy to assess natural resource impacts, prioritize mitigation and conservation investments, and provide ecologically valuable mitigation and conservation projects throughout the state. The Mitigation Bank is intended to focus on regional ecological priorities, improve watershed health, improve habitat connectivity, and make meaningful contributions to the recovery of threatened and endangered species.

Oregon Board of Forestry, Forestry Program for Oregon

The Forestry Program for Oregon is a sustainability plan developed by the Board of Forestry along with input from the public. The Board of Forestry consists of Governor-appointed volunteers who oversee Oregon’s forest protection laws and regulations. The Forestry Program for Oregon lays out the board’s eight-year vision for Oregon’s forests. It also describes how Oregon’s private and public forest landowners can work with citizens to ensure that Oregon’s forests are managed to balance economic, environmental, and social benefits. This progressive plan addresses important challenges, such as growing populations, the conversion of forests for other uses, and the declining health of federal forests. It establishes 19 indicators of sustainable forest management that serve as measuring sticks. Established in 1977, the program’s most recent eight-year plan was adopted in 2011.

Oregon Department of Forestry Forest Practices Act

The Oregon Forest Practices Act (FPA) sets standards for any commercial activity involving the establishment, management, or harvesting of trees on Oregon’s forestlands. The FPA regulates these operations on all non-federal lands (private, state-owned, and county- or city-owned). The broad categories covered in the FPA include planning and conducting forest harvesting operations, road construction and maintenance, fish and wildlife protection, chemical use, and reforestation. Every non-federal landowner in Oregon planning any kind of commercial forest operation is required to file a written notification and site map with the ODF and follow the rules set forth in the FPA.

Oregon Forest Collaboratives

Forest collaboratives have been forming throughout Oregon over the past two decades as part of an increase in community-based organizations working to achieve natural resource management goals to complement the work of public land agencies, like the USFS.  There are now 23 collaborative groups in Oregon: 14 are focused on “Dry Forest” landscapes, 9 are focused on “West-side Forests”, and there is at least one community-based collaborative group working with each of the 11 National Forests located in Oregon. Collaboratives include a variety of stakeholders from public, tribal, private, and nonprofit organizations, businesses, and engaged citizens. These collaboratives have focused on facilitating the scaling-up of landscape-level agreement, treatment, restoration, and monitoring activities.

Regional and Broad-Scale Multi-State Planning Efforts

Oregon conservation planning has occurred within the context of several multi-state efforts. These plans examine the complex interactions between multiple species and habitats across broad areas, and provide insight for Oregon’s Strategy. Although each of these planning efforts has slightly different goals and objectives, they provide a solid basis for natural resources planning in Oregon. These plans were consulted in development of the Strategy and will continue to be referenced, as appropriate, as the Strategy is implemented.

Northwest Forest Plan

Adopted in 1994, the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) is an integrated, comprehensive design for ecosystem management, intergovernmental and public collaboration, and rural community economic assistance for federal forests in western Oregon, Washington, and northern California. The intent of the NWFP is to adopt coordinated management direction for the lands administered by the USFS and the BLM, and to adopt complementary approaches by other federal agencies within the range of the Northern Spotted Owl. The management of these public lands must meet dual needs: the need for forest habitat and the need for forest products. Although focused on the Spotted Owl, the plan was intended to address the needs of a wide array of species affected by loss and fragmentation of late-successional forests, and it covers over 1,000 species of plants, animals, and fungi. The NWFP has yet to be fully implemented. For example, the ten federal adaptive management areas established in the Plan to emphasize research on ecosystem function in forested landscapes have not been utilized. Full implementation of the economic, social, and environmental goals of the NWFP is needed to ensure sustainable use of federal forestlands.

TNC‘s Ecoregional Assessments

TNC‘s ecoregion planning approach divides the nation into physiographically-similar areas to identify and protect large tracts of land that are characterized by unique natural areas and features. TNC has strategic plans for threatened areas within each ecoregion to protect and maintain biodiversity. The process includes assessment of species and ecosystems within an ecoregion, setting species and habitat goals, designing a network that will meet those goals, and identifying highest priority areas to conserve. TNC then works with partners to establish the conservation network.

Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project

The project developed a framework for ecosystem management and a scientific assessment of the ecological, biophysical, social, and economic conditions of the Columbia Basin, including all of eastern Oregon. Instead of a formal, basin-wide decision from the project, federal decision-makers adopted a strategy of incorporating the science into ongoing USFS and BLM land management plans.

Federal Land Management Plans

National Forest Plans (USFS) and Resource Management Plans (BLM) – These plans provide management direction for the many multiple uses of National Forests, including outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, fish and wildlife, minerals, wilderness, roadless areas, and cultural resources. These plans were amended by the NWFP on the westside and the Interior Columbia Basin Strategy on the eastside.

An Ecosystem Approach to Salmonid Conservation

This document provides a natural science-based framework for government agencies and landowners to incorporate an ecosystem approach to habitat conservation planning, protection, and restoration of aquatic habitat on non-federal lands in the Pacific Northwest. It includes guidance for developing, monitoring, and implementing habitat conservation plans in a larger regional context of conservation goals.

Western Governor’s Association 10-Year Comprehensive Wildfire Strategy

An advisory committee with experts on forest health policy, including timber industry representatives, state and federal land managers, rural community leaders, and environmental representatives developed a comprehensive, state-of-the-science strategy to best protect communities and the environment from the dangers of catastrophic wildfire.

Northwest Power and Conservation Council

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council is an agency representing Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The Council is directed by the Northwest Power Act of 1980 to develop a program to protect, mitigate, and enhance fish and wildlife of the Columbia River Basin affected by hydropower dams. The Council has three primary responsibilities:

  • Develop a 20-year electric power plan that will guarantee adequate and reliable energy at the lowest economic and environmental cost to the Northwest.
  • Develop a program to protect and rebuild fish and wildlife populations affected by hydropower development in the Columbia River Basin.
  • Educate and involve the public in the Council’s decision-making processes.
Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce

The Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) is a council of governments that includes local counties, cities, and port districts surrounding the Columbia River Estuary in both Oregon and Washington. CREST is a non-regulatory, regional organization providing a forum for members to identify and discuss issues of regional importance, to monitor and comment on governmental activities related to the development and management of the natural, economic, and human resources of the Columbia River Estuary, and to improve communication and cooperation between member governments.

CREST provides coastal and estuarine technical services for members, coordinates activities between agencies, and provides information, maps, and educational materials to residents of the region. Examples include permitting issues, zoning ordinance, comprehensive plan and shoreline master plan amendments, estuarine impact analysis, wetlands issues, dredging issues, and water quality issues. CREST developed a 1977 publication, Columbia River Estuary Inventory of Physical, Biological, and Cultural Characteristics, that was used to develop the Columbia River Estuary Regional Management Plan in 1979, which was adopted in the local comprehensive plans in Oregon and shoreline master programs in Washington.

The Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority

Established by charter in 1987, the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority objectives include coordinating the fish and wildlife activities of interagency and tribal concern, facilitating interagency and tribal involvement in the implementation of the Northwest Power Planning Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program, and interacting with the water and land planning and management authorities of the Columbia River Basin. The Authority’s members include the four state (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana) and two federal (USFWS and National Marine Fisheries Service) fish and wildlife management entities and 13 Indian tribes of the Columbia River Basin.

Columbia River Gorge Commission

The Columbia River Gorge Commission was authorized by the 1986 Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act and created through a bi-state compact between Oregon and Washington in 1987. The Commission was established to develop and enforce policies and programs that protect and enhance the scenic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the Gorge, while encouraging compatible growth within existing urban areas of the Gorge and allowing economic development outside urban areas consistent with resource protection. The Commission works in partnership with a number of entities to implement a regional Management Plan. Partners include Oregon and Washington; the USFS; four treaty Indian tribes (the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Yakima Indian Nations); Clark, Klickitat, and Skamania Counties in Washington; and Hood River, Multnomah, and Wasco Counties in Oregon.

Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission

The Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) is the technical support and coordinating agency for fishery management policies of the four Columbia River treaty tribes. These tribes include: the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Nation, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and the Nez Perce Tribe. Membership is composed of the fish and wildlife committees of these tribes. CRITFC, formed in 1977, employs biologists, other scientists, public information specialists, policy analysts, and administrators who work in fisheries research and analysis, advocacy, planning and coordination, harvest control, and law enforcement.

Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership

The Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership, one of 28 programs in the National Estuary Program, is a two-state, public-private initiative. Its primary responsibility is to implement the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the 146 miles of the lower Columbia River and estuary. The Management Plan was developed by bringing together diverse interests to reach consensus on how to protect this complex portion of the Columbia River system. Using a watershed approach, the Estuary Partnership cuts across political boundaries, integrating 28 cities, 9 counties, and the states of Oregon and Washington. The Plan identifies 43 actions to address 7 priority issues (biological integrity, impacts of human activity and growth, habitat loss and modification, conventional pollutants, toxic contaminants in sediments, institutional constraints, and public awareness and stewardship). The actions and issues were derived from scientific studies and input from citizens of the lower Columbia River and estuary. The Management Plan has no regulatory authority and relies on voluntary participation.

Local and Regional Plans

ODF State Forest Management Plans

ODF manages about 860,000 acres of forestlands. ODF-managed lands are mostly concentrated in six large State Forests:

  • Clatsop State Forest
  • Elliott State Forest
  • Gilchrist State Forest
  • Santiam State Forest
  • Sun Pass State Forest
  • Tillamook State Forest

ODF forest management plans provide management direction for all Board of Forestry Lands and Common School Forest Lands, and are actively managed under adopted forest management plans to provide economic, environmental, and social benefits. These include timber harvest, revenue to local governments and schools, protection of fish and wildlife habitat and other environmental values, and opportunities for recreation and learning.

Oregon Estuary Plan

Compiled by Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development, the Oregon Estuary Plan book provides an overview of the values and functions of estuaries and the requirements of Statewide Planning Goal 16 (Estuarine Resources). The purpose of Goal 16 is to maintain the environmental, economic, and social value of estuaries. The Oregon Estuary Plan book describes how cities and counties have addressed Goal 16 requirements in local comprehensive plans and land use ordinances, and how these local requirements are applied during review of individual projects. Because estuaries often have complex ownerships and jurisdictions, the Oregon Estuary Plan book promotes coordinated action by local, state, and federal agencies that have an interest in Oregon’s estuaries.

Willamette River Initiative’s Willamette Restoration Strategy

With increasing population and development pressures within the Willamette Valley, Governor Kitzhaber appointed a group to address water quality and habitat issues in the basin and adopt a strategy to protect and restore the basin’s ecological health. It was developed through a collaborative process involving over 150 partners and participants from businesses, government agencies, tribes, academia, watershed councils, agriculture, forestry, and environmental organizations. Completed in 2001, the Willamette Restoration Strategy includes plans to protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat and increase populations of declining species within the context of continuing population growth in the basin.

Species Conservation and Management Plans

Many plans have been completed for single species or related groups of species. These plans address needs of threatened or endangered species, game species, and other species of interest.

ODFW Species Conservation and Management Plans

ODFW creates species management plans to guide management of game and other species. Examples include the Big-Horned Sheep and Rocky Mountain Goat Management Plan, Elk Management Plan, Mule Deer Management Plan, and Black Bear Management Plan. In some cases, the plans are interagency, multi-stakeholder efforts, such as the Oregon Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Assessment and Strategy.

ODFW Native Fish Conservation Policy and Stock Status Reports

ODFW is currently reviewing the status of salmonid populations. This review includes production of a Native Fish Status report on each Species Management Unit and population of selected native fish in the state. The review identifies status using four criteria: distribution, abundance, productivity, and reproductive independence.

Oregon Coastal Coho Assessment

This multi-stakeholder effort coordinated by ODFW and NOAA Fisheries examines the status of the Oregon Coast Coho Salmon Evolutionarily Significant Unit. The Coho Assessment will evaluate actions under the Oregon Plan to conserve and rebuild coastal coho populations and develop a conservation plan consistent with state and federal recovery plan guidelines.

Federal Recovery Plans

The USFWS and NOAA Fisheries (also known as the National Marine Fisheries Service) are the two agencies charged with the administration and implementation of the Endangered Species Act. The goal of the Endangered Species Act is the recovery of listed species to levels where protection under the Act is no longer necessary. To meet this goal, Recovery Plans delineate reasonable actions that are believed to be required to recover and protect listed species. Plans are published by the USFWS and NOAA for some species. Plans have been prepared with the assistance of recovery teams, contractors, state and federal agencies, and others.

Individual Species Conservation Assessments Developed by USFS and BLM

Federal agencies have developed detailed species assessments and plans for many species of interest. Although some of these assessments may cover only a small portion of a species’ range, the information may be pertinent to one or more of the ecoregions, or to the identified Strategy Habitats within an ecoregion.

Bird Conservation Plans

Many regional and national bird plans have identified conservation priorities for birds. These plans were consulted in determining Strategy Species. Examples include Partners in Flight species scores, Regional Shorebird Conservation Plans, Regional Waterbird Conservation Plans, Oregon-Washington Partners in Flight Bird Conservation Plan focal species, National Audubon “WatchList” status, geographical area-specific bird conservation plans, and American Bird Conservancy State Green Lists.

Eastern Oregon All-Bird Plan

Prepared by the Oregon Habitat Joint Venture, this planning effort reviewed, merged, and synthesized the goals and objectives of existing bird conservation plans into a coordinated planning document that reflects the species and habitat priorities of all bird conservation programs in eastern Oregon.

Other Natural Resource Planning Efforts for Oregon’s Ecoregions

Some major planning efforts specific to Oregon’s eight terrestrial ecoregions are listed below. This list is not comprehensive but demonstrates some of the local efforts to determine issues and priorities. Linking to local planning and restoration efforts will be an effective way to work toward the Strategy’s goals, while providing a greater context and recognition for the efforts of communities.

Blue Mountains
  • Wallowa County Nez Perce Tribe Salmon Habitat Recovery Plan – Wallowa County citizens, the Nez Perce Tribe, and agency professionals developed a plan to restore and maintain habitat for Chinook salmon and other salmonid species in Wallowa County.
  • Watershed council watershed assessments and action plans
  • Sub-basin plans
  • Hells Canyon Initiative (multi-state, multi-agency bighorn sheep restoration effort)
  • Local comprehensive land use plans, conservation plans, or assessments developed by local city, county, municipal, or tribal governments
Coast Range
  • Northwest Forest Plan: Addresses management of late-successional forests on federal land. It covers extensive areas of forest in the Coast Range ecoregion.
  • ODF State Forest plans: Northwest and Southwest Oregon State Forest Management Plans and Elliot State Forest Management Plan
  • Watershed council watershed assessments and action plans
  • Sub-basin plans
  • Oregon Coastal Coho Assessment: Evaluates status of the Oregon Coast Coho Salmon Evolutionarily Significant Unit. This collaborative project between ODFW and NOAA Fisheries seeks to assess actions under the Oregon Plan to conserve and rebuild coastal coho populations, develop a conservation plan consistent with state and federal recovery plan guidelines, and work with multi-stakeholder teams.
  • Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plans, completed for the Columbia River Estuary (by the Lower Columbia River Estuary Program) and Tillamook Bay (by the Tillamook Bay National Estuary Project): Identifies issues, actions, and indicators.
  • Lower Columbia and Columbia Estuary Bi-State Sub-basin Plan: Comprehensive and detailed effort to catalogue wildlife and biological dynamics in the Columbia Estuary; extensive database efforts
  • Oregon Estuary Plan: Compilation of city and county planning efforts to address critical needs of Oregon’s estuaries
  • Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Plans: Ocean Shore Management Plan and Habitat Conservation Plan for the Snowy Plover
  • Pacific Coast Estuarine Information System: A database developed by the USGS and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to catalogue native and invasive estuarine species and sediment, contaminant, and nutrient levels in estuaries of the Pacific Coast.
  • Local comprehensive land use plans, conservation plans, or assessments developed by local city, county, municipal, or tribal governments
Columbia Plateau
  • Watershed council watershed assessments and action plans
  • Sub-basin plans
  • Local comprehensive land use plans, conservation plans, or assessments developed by local city, county, municipal, or tribal governments
East Cascades
  • Watershed council watershed assessments and action plans
  • Sub-basin plans
  • Klamath Basin Ecosystem planning effort: An interagency effort managed by the USFWS to address habitat conservation and water management issues.
  • The Upper Klamath Basin Working Group: Chartered by Congress in 1996 to develop a plan for the Upper Basin that focuses on enhancing ecosystem restoration, improving economic stability, and minimizing impacts associated with drought on all resources and stakeholders. The Working Group is comprised of over 30 individuals appointed by the Governor of Oregon, representing federal, state, and local governments and agencies; the Klamath Tribes; conservation organizations; farmers and ranchers; and industry and local businesses. The Working Group completed a restoration plan in 2002.
  • ODF State Forest plans (Sun Pass State Forest)
  • Local comprehensive land use plans, conservation plans, or assessments developed by local city, county, municipal, or tribal governments
Klamath Mountains
  • Watershed council watershed assessments and action plans
  • Sub-basin plans
  • Northwest Forest Plan: Addresses management of late-successional forests on federal land. It covers extensive areas of forest in the western part of the Klamath Mountains ecoregion.
  • Oregon Coastal Coho Assessment: Evaluates status of the Oregon Coast Coho Salmon Evolutionarily Significant Unit. This collaborative project between ODFW and NOAA Fisheries seeks to assess actions under the Oregon Plan to conserve and rebuild coastal coho populations, develop a conservation plan consistent with state and federal recovery plan guidelines, and work with multi-stakeholder teams.
  • Local comprehensive land use plans, conservation plans, or assessments developed by local city, county, municipal, or tribal governments
Northern Basin and Range
  • Watershed council watershed assessments and action plans
  • Sub-basin plans
  • Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Assessment and Conservation Strategy for Oregon
  • Local comprehensive land use plans, conservation plans, or assessments developed by local city, county, municipal, or tribal governments
West Cascades
  • Watershed council watershed assessments and action plans
  • Sub-basin plans
  • Northwest Forest Plan: Addresses management of late-successional forests on federal land. It covers extensive areas of forest in the West Cascades ecoregion.
  • ODF State Forest plans (Santiam State Forest)
  • Local comprehensive land use plans, conservation plans, or assessments developed by local city, county, municipal, or tribal governments
Willamette Valley
  • Watershed council watershed assessments and action plans
  • Sub-basin plans
  • Oregon Coastal Coho Assessment: Evaluates status of the Oregon Coast Coho Salmon Evolutionarily Significant Unit. This collaborative project between ODFW and NOAA Fisheries seeks to assess actions under the Oregon Plan to conserve and rebuild coastal coho populations, develop a conservation plan consistent with state and federal recovery plan guidelines, and work with multi-stakeholder teams.
  • The Portland Metropolitan Greenspaces Master Plan: Describes a vision for a unique regional system of parks, natural areas, greenways, and trails for fish, wildlife, and people. Identifies urban natural areas, trails, and greenway corridors for the Portland metropolitan region.
  • Willamette Restoration Initiative: 2002 community conference on riverfront issues that discussed ecology, history, tourism, and riverfront revitalization. Identifies priority actions for conservation in lowlands and midlands and emphasized the importance of reconnecting floodplains.
  • Willamette River Basin Planning Atlas: Looks at three alternative scenarios of the Basin’s future, showing effects of management of urban, rural, and natural lands and waters across the entire basin through the year 2050.
  • Local comprehensive land use plans, conservation plans, or assessments developed by local city, county, municipal, or tribal governments


Oregon’s Existing Regulatory Framework

This section highlights some of Oregon’s regulatory framework. A complete evaluation of the federal regulatory framework is beyond the scope of the Conservation Strategy.

Oregon’s Statewide Land Use Planning Program

Oregon’s statewide land use planning program originated in 1973 under Senate Bill 100. The foundation of the program is 19 statewide planning goals covering a range of resources and issues, including citizen involvement, protection of farm and forestlands, transportation, public facilities, natural resources and open space, and coastal resources.

The statewide goals are achieved through local comprehensive planning. State law requires each local government to adopt a comprehensive plan that is consistent with the statewide goals, and the implementing ordinances needed to put the plan into effect. The state Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) reviews local comprehensive plans and implementing ordinances for consistency with the Statewide Planning Goals. When LCDC officially approves a local government’s plan, the plan is said to be ‘acknowledged’. After acknowledgment, the plan becomes the controlling document for land use in the area covered by that plan. State law recommends local governments go through a periodic review process at specified intervals of time to revise and update plans and ordinances to address new or amended state requirements and changing conditions.

Oregon’s planning laws apply not only to local governments, but also to special districts and state agencies. The laws strongly emphasize coordination to keep plans and programs consistent with each other, with the goals, and with acknowledged local plans. Except as provided in ORS 197.277 or 197.180(2) or unless expressly exempted by another statute, ORS 197.180 requires state agencies with programs affecting land use to carry out these programs in compliance with the statewide planning goals and in a manner compatible with local comprehensive plans and land use regulations.

The Oregon Forest Practices Act

Voted into law by the legislature in 1971, the Oregon Forest Practices Act was the first of its kind in the nation. The Act encourages economically efficient forest management in Oregon and the continuous growing and harvesting of trees and maintenance of forestland on privately-owned land consistent with the protection of forest resources through the sound management of soil, air, water, fish, and wildlife resources. It also helps preserve scenic resources along visually sensitive corridors and reduces the risk of serious bodily injury or death caused by shallow, rapidly-moving landslides directly related to forest practices. Under the authority of the Act, the ODF regulates forest operations on nearly 12 million acres of non-federal forestland. It guides forest landowners and operators on how to conduct forest operations and activities so they are in compliance with the FPA administrative rules. These rules apply to harvesting, reforestation, road construction and repair, slash disposal (treetops, branches, brush, and tree limbs left on the ground after a logging operation), chemical use, and stream, lake, and wetland protection. Sensitive resource sites, such as bird nesting and roosting locations, and threatened and endangered species sites are also protected under the rules. Oregon’s forest ecosystems are diverse and dynamic. The ODF provides scientific information for adapting policies, management practices, and restoration activities to better achieve management, protection, and restoration goals. The success of the program reflects the vision created by the 1971 legislature, as well as the tremendous efforts of landowners and stewardship foresters who collaborate on the ground to focus on results, rather than process.

Oregon’s Regulatory Streamlining Initiative

Executive Order 03-01 requires state agencies to review their regulations of business activities and their regulatory processes to reduce the burden of regulation on business without compromising Oregon’s standards and protections. The Office of Regulatory Streamlining at the Department of Consumer and Business Services was established to facilitate this effort. The Office of Regulatory Streamlining provides ongoing research to identify opportunities for regulatory streamlining and serves as a clearinghouse for agency streamlining efforts.

Oregon State Agencies

  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency with a primary responsibility for conserving the state’s living fish and wildlife, with a mission of protecting and enhancing species and habitat. The agency manages fish hatchery programs, sets and enforces angler catch limits and hunting tag limits, develops species conservation plans, establishes fish and wildlife policies, manages wildlife areas, and sponsors landowner conservation incentives programs.
  • Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulates water quality by establishing and enforcing state standards for point and non-point pollution for each watershed or sub-basin. DEQ:
    • requires that plans be developed by the appropriate federal, state, or local land management agency for complying with Total Maximum Daily Load limits for each regulated pollutant identified in the watershed.
    • maintains a nonpoint source program to manage water pollution from surface runoff. The program works to enhance watershed protection, voluntary stewardship, and stakeholder partnerships. Among other activities, the program provides technical assistance, a cost-share program, stewardship recognition, and education about watershed enhancement projects.
    • has a number of permits and programs designed to reduce point or non-point source pollution, including: the Nonpoint Source Program, the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, Water Pollution Control Facilities (WPCF) permit, NPDES Storm Water Discharge permit, Underground Discharge permits, and Sewage Disposal permits.
  • Oregon Department of Forestry manages forested lands owned by the residents of Oregon and enforces the requirements of the State Forest Management Act on private land. The Forestry Program for Oregon and the Oregon FPA provide the legal and regulatory framework for managing forestlands in Oregon. ODF develops an annual strategic plan and management plans for each State Forest. It also requires plans from landowners harvesting timber on private property, requiring the operation meet a variety of stipulations including riparian buffers, clearcut size, road design and maintenance, and slope stabilization. The mission of the ODF is to serve the people of Oregon by protecting, managing, and promoting stewardship of Oregon’s forests to enhance environmental, economic, and community sustainability. Four key department programs work to achieve this mission:
    • The Private and Community Forests Program’s mission is to implement progressive policies and programs, including technical assistance, incentives, and regulation that promote healthy sustainable private and community forestlands. Administration of the Oregon FPA and other services to private forest landowners through this program will continue to be important, proven delivery mechanisms for any state wildlife policies affecting these lands.
    • The Protection From Fire Program’s mission is to provide a complete and coordinated forestland fire protection system, and in so doing, safely prevent and suppress fire on or threatening forestland within forest protection districts, in a manner which minimizes costs and resource losses.
    • The State Forests Program’s mission is to manage Board of Forestry lands to achieve the greatest permanent value (healthy, productive, and sustainable forest ecosystems), and to manage Common School Forest Lands to maximize revenues over the long-term in a manner that is consistent with protecting environmental values. Science-based approaches that include active and integrated resource management techniques will be utilized to ensure that economic, environmental, and social benefits are produced in a sustainable manner.
    • The Forest Resources Planning Program’s mission is to lead strategic planning, to provide credible and objective analyses for the Board of Forestry and the ODF, and to actively promote policies that encourage sustainable forest management and further the strategies and actions of the Forestry Program for Oregon on all Oregon forestlands.
  • Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) is in charge of Oregon’s unique and acclaimed land use planning system. DLCD does not manage land. Instead, it stipulates practices and processes required of local land managers (cities, counties, and Metro Regional Government) to meet 19 goals that cover a broad range of public interests, including conservation of farms and forests, natural resources, open space, estuaries, air and water quality, and the Willamette River Greenway. Cities and counties are required to develop comprehensive plans that address the 19 goals. The goal that most closely addresses fish and wildlife habitat, Goal 5, requires that cities and counties adhere to a process which requires them to inventory natural resources, determine their significance, identify conflicting uses, and determine whether to allow the conflicting use. Goal 6 provides broad authority to regulate land uses to address water quality. Goal 7 covers areas subject to natural hazards and disasters, including floodplains. Goal 14 has probably had the greatest effect on conserving wildlife habitat by requiring each city or metropolitan area to establish an urban growth boundary that restricts urban development from encroaching on adjacent farms and forests. Goal 15 establishes the Willamette Greenway. Goals 16 (Estuarine Resources), 17 (Coastal Shorelands), and 18 (Beaches and Dunes) regulate development in coastal areas.
  • Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) manages state properties as investments to increase state revenues. Its holdings include 784,000 acres of upland property including the Elliott State Forest. DSL also manages the state’s submerged public lands and regulates excavation and filling of waterway beds and banks. DSL regulates wetlands permits in Oregon and helps local governments inventory, assess, designate, and develop management plans for wetlands under Oregon’s land use Goals 5 (Natural Resources), 16 (Estuaries), and 17 (Coastal Shorelands).
  • Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board is the state agency that promotes and funds efforts to restore salmon runs, improve water quality, and strengthen aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems to improve conditions of watersheds throughout the state. It is the primary vehicle for funding the activities of watershed councils and provides financial and technical support to SWCDs and other local conservation groups. With OWEB support, many councils have completed watershed assessments and have or are developing watershed action plans. They also provide funding for some capacity building as well as on-the-ground restoration activities. OWEB is building a restoration database and produces progress reports and educational materials.

A number of state agencies do not directly manage species or habitat, but as they manage state lands, infrastructure, or a wide variety of state-run activities, they are required to consider their effects on species and habitat.

  • Oregon Department of Agriculture is responsible for development of agricultural water quality plans and rules (SB 1010) for each basin in the state. These plans were developed by ODA, working with local stakeholders. The plans include goals, objectives, and recommended practices for agriculture to improve water quality, and the rules require certain conditions to be met.
  • Oregon Parks and Recreation Department manages publicly-owned properties throughout the state including the Willamette Greenway. While the department’s primary emphasis is on recreation, park land management conserves and supports a variety of conservation goals. Each State Park management plan addresses the unique features of the site and identifies specific actions to enhance them. For example, park managers are reintroducing fire at Champoeg State Heritage Area and Elijah Bristow State Park as a tool for restoring Willamette Valley white oak savannas.
  • Oregon Department of Transportation shares staff and consults with ODFW regarding the effects of road construction on habitat, particularly fish passage. ODOT is increasingly addressing habitat connectivity and exploring opportunities to incorporate wildlife passage into road and highway plans. A statewide bridge reconstruction project launched in 2002 has served as a means to streamline planning and work in concert with fish and wildlife programs.
  • Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) manages Oregon surface and groundwater. The agency enforces water laws, facilitates voluntary efforts to restore stream flows, and works with watershed groups on water supply issues. Oregon water rights are based on seniority. It is the role of OWRD to determine during drought periods who gets water and who doesn’t. On many streams throughout the state, by the end of summer, there is only enough water to supply users who established their rights in the late 1800s. In settings where water rights are over allocated (more rights exist than water in the stream), the OWRD is the arbitrator of competing uses (industries, agriculture, municipalities, or fish and wildlife).

Federal Agencies

Oregon state government is one player among a broad spectrum of organizations engaged in conservation activities. The federal government manages over 34 million acres of publicly-owned land in Oregon, comprising over half of the state. Management of these lands primarily falls under the Departments of Interior and Agriculture. Specific entities within those departments include:

  • The USFS manages approximately 17.5 million acres of national forests and grasslands.
  • The BLM manages nearly 16 million acres of lands, much of which is interspersed through private property.
  • The National Park Service manages almost 200,000 acres, mostly in Crater Lake National Park.
  • The USFWS manages an extensive refuge system.

In addition to the federal government’s role as land owner, it establishes laws and executive orders that place requirements on states to comply with regulations, most of which require planning, federal and local oversight, monitoring, and reporting.

Additionally, a number of federal agencies provide services that are not primarily focused on fish and wildlife species or habitat management, but are strongly linked through land use. For example, the NRCS primarily provides technical support to agricultural landowners. By virtue of that connection, it provides regional conservation support through its Resource Conservation and Development Program, as well as incentives programs to rural landowners for projects such as wildlife habitat enhancement and fish passage. The USFWS works with private landowners, government agencies, and others to restore and conserve native species and habitats.

Regional Efforts

There also are regional bodies formed to address specific management issues that cross state boundaries. Two of these entities engage in complex planning efforts that affect public and private lands and waterways. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council is charged with developing a plan to guarantee a 20-year supply of reliable and affordable power for the region while protecting and rebuilding fish and wildlife populations affected by power generation activities in the Columbia River Basin. Their most recent major planning endeavor has been development of plans for the 22 sub-basins that make up the Columbia River Basin, with the purpose of focusing resources into highest priority restoration investments.

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area covers 2 states, 6 counties, and 13 cities on both sides of the Columbia River and was formed to protect the scenic, recreational, and natural resource qualities of the Gorge. Commissioners appointed by governors of Washington and Oregon set policy and direct its management under the Gorge Management Plan, which includes stipulations for protection of natural resources, covering wetlands, aquatic habitat, and at-risk wildlife species. Site plans submitted to cities, counties, or the commission are reviewed by respective state wildlife agencies, and where deemed appropriate, wildlife protection plans are required. The 13 urban areas are exempt from these land use provisions.

Local Governments

Oregon’s lands include 240 incorporated cities and 36 counties that each must comply with state and federal requirements for wildlife and fish habitat conservation. Each exercises considerable individuality in doing so, based on financial resources, local habitat conditions, and direction from local officials and citizens. All cities and counties have developed local comprehensive plans to address statewide planning goals. Many cities and counties have developed conservation plans to address local conservation issues.

In a number of urbanized areas of the state, cities and counties have formed voluntary councils of government to pool resources and cooperate on issues that cross jurisdictional boundaries. The nature and purpose of these councils is widely varied, reflecting their respective natural and political landscapes. There are nine such councils counting Metro Regional Government, the only such regional body to hold regulatory authority. Several engage in wildlife conservation planning and management activities ranging from open space acquisition to riparian restoration to conservation education. As an example of their capabilities, the Lane Council of Governments has partnered with Eugene and Springfield, TNC, and the BLM to develop a land acquisition plan called Rivers to Ridges, acquiring and restoring the West Eugene Wetlands as native wetlands and wet prairies that also provide urban residents with open space, recreation, stormwater management, and flood control. Another example in the Portland area is the Metro program “Title 3”. This is a regulatory program for water quality protection and floodplain management that also addresses vegetation corridors within the urban growth boundary. Also in Portland, the Metro 2040 program is a significant land use planning program that integrates fish and wildlife habitat protection, concerns about water quality and quantity, and regional growth.

In addition to these local jurisdictions and regional bodies, Oregon has a variety of special districts that deal with aspects of fish and wildlife conservation. SWCDs provide assistance to landowners primarily in rural areas. As part of that service, they assist with habitat conservation planning ranging from stream buffers to fish passage and provide assistance with incentives programs to help fund these projects.

Park districts often pool funding from counties and cities to provide recreational services across jurisdictional boundaries. Many of them restore native vegetation on their sites, partner in planning for public open space, and provide natural resource-based educational activities and interpretation.

In some cases, water treatment agencies contribute significant services in restoring fish and wildlife habitat, restoring water flows to declining streams, and providing educational services. For example, Clean Water Services in Hillsboro shifted its role as a municipal water treatment facility to a ratepayer-funded watershed enhancement agency. In addition to operating four water treatment facilities serving urban Washington County, it developed the Healthy Streams Plan, a coordinated approach for meeting the requirements of the federal Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act in the Tualatin Basin. The Oregon DEQ issued a Clean Water Act-integrated municipal watershed-based permit for the basin, the first of its kind in the nation, which allows for creative trading between permit holders and landowners in the basin to collectively achieve water quality levels while restoring habitat.

Native American Tribes

Oregon’s Native American tribes are recognized as sovereign nations by the federal and state government and are unique legal entities representing distinct communities. There are five groupings of tribes called confederations as well as four independent tribes. Their land holdings within nine reservations vary in size, population, governing structure, and natural resource base.

In 1954, the federal government passed the Termination Act, which severed the trust relationship between the government and many native people with the result that they lost federal tribal recognition and control of their reservation lands. Of the 109 tribes and bands terminated, 62 were native to Oregon. The results were devastating, and it has taken many years for Oregon’s tribes to restore the trust relationship and rebuild cultural structure and economic stability, including determining the appropriate use and conservation of natural resources on reservation lands.

Many of the tribes have natural resources staff and get financial and technical assistance through the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs as well as work through partnerships. The reservations are at various stages of planning for and management of natural resources.

Tribe Trust Restoration Reservation Size Enrollment Ecoregion
Burns Paiute Tribe 13,738 341 Northern Basin and Range
Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde 1983 11,040 4,926 Willamette Valley
Coquille Indian Tribe 1989 6,512 819 Coast Range
Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon 644,000 3,980 East Cascades, Blue Mountains
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon 1977 4,666 4,094 Coast Range
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation 172,882 2,447 Columbia Plateau
Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians 1984 754 Klamath Mountains/ West Cascades
Klamath Tribes 1986 3,466 East Cascades
Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians 1982 1,289 Klamath Mountains