Farm and Forest land protections threatened in Crook and Jefferson Counties

Through an innocent-sounding “update” to County-wide codes in both Crook County and Jefferson County, longstanding protections for farm and forest lands could be weakened.  Both counties are considering the adoption of new “model codes” that would significantly replace the counties’ existing EFU and Forest zoning codes.
 
Both counties’ existing EFU and Forest codes include laudable protections that help farmers and ranchers sustain their livelihoods. These existing codes protect large blocks of farm, range, and forest land for the benefit of working farmers, ranchers, and wildlife, and promote vibrant town centers by directing nonfarm activities away from rural land.

The “model codes” slated for adoption in both counties would impose only the bare minimum protections for farm and forest land required by the state.  The “model codes” would allow new uses and would weaken the standards for some existing nonfarm uses.
 
While a simple effort to simplify existing EFU and Forest codes so they are in compliance with mandatory provisions in state law would be commendable, we are deeply concerned that adoption of the “model codes” will bring collateral damage to longstanding County protections of rural land.
 
To make matters worse, residents don’t have a clear and complete explanation of exactly how the existing EFU and Forest codes would be changed.

LandWatch has requested the following from the counties:

  • Provide the public with clear explanations of what changes to the existing EFU and Forest codes are being proposed, what effect those changes are anticipated to have, and why those changes are needed.

  • If any new uses are proposed in EFU and Forest zones, they should be considered in a separate process, and not buried within the “model code” update process.

  • Maintain all existing protections for farm and forest land, including current use standards and disallowing any new discretionary uses.



You can voice these and other concerns you may have by submitting comments.
 
In Crook County, email plan@co.crook.or.us with the subject line “Model Code Text Amendment.” 
 
In Jefferson County, email 
Tanya.Cloutier@co.jefferson.or.us with the subject line “Farm and Forest Model Code Update.”
 
LandWatch will continue to monitor these projects, and alert you to