A basic principle of Oregon land use law is that intensive development should occur within urban growth boundaries and that rural areas, including farmland and forestland, should be protected. One exception to this rule created by the Oregon Legislature in the 1980s is destination resorts where more extensive development would be allowed to encourage tourism.

Over the past decade there has been substantial abuse of the destination resort provisions where instead of overnight tourism they have been oriented to second home subdivisions. As has been noted by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (“LUBA”), destination resorts can have the impact of small cities.

LandWatch’s work against destination resorts has occurred in Deschutes, Jefferson and Klamath Counties, including proposed mapping of destination resorts and actual destination resort applications.

See Johnson and Central Oregon LandWatch v. Jefferson County, 56 Or LUBA 72 (2008)

In a sweeping victory at LUBA where virtually all of our assignments of error were sustained, LandWatch prevailed against Klamath County’s proposed expansion of its destination resort area by 90,000 acres.

LUBA in its decision in Root and Central Oregon LandWatch v. Klamath County, __ Or LUBA __ (LUBA No. 2010-077 and -079)(2011), determined that the County had failed to show a public need for the expansion, to assess each proposed tract of land for whether there was especially sensitive big game habitat, to adequately describe and map the proposed tracks, to assess impacts on Goal 5-protected wildlife habitat, to analyze impacts on transportation facilities and to determine what lands are in high fire risk areas.

See Root and Central Oregon LandWatch v. Klamath County, __OR LUBA__(LUBA No. 2010-077 and -079)

Following the decision, Jefferson County recently abandoned its similar plans for destination resort mapping which had many of the same problems as the Klamath County case.

Additionally, LandWatch has opposed efforts by the destination resort industry to do away with fundamental requirements for destination resorts, include overnight housing. In the 2011 Oregon legislative session, LandWatch had to oppose special entitlements bills where proposed destination resorts sought to avoid application of the destination resort statutes and rules entirely.

LandWatch has also sponsored research on economic impacts of destination resorts and impacts on spring systems
Read the Destination Report Impact Study

Watch the LandWatch DVD, “Deep Water: Protecting the Natural Springs and Native Fish of the Deschutes Basin”).