ACTION ALERT - The Future of Our Agricultural Lands

You still have a chance to tell the Deschutes County Planning Commission that our Agricultural and Forest lands protections should remain strong. This is important for the future of Central Oregon, make your voice heard!

On Thursday, June 13, at 5:30pm at the Deschutes County Services Center, the Planning Commission will hold another hearing to consider whether these lands should be protected or whether they should be designated as "nonprime" resource lands. We need you to give in-person testimony or submit written comments.

Thank you so much to those of you who spoke up for our resource lands last month at the Deschutes County Planning Commission's first hearing on the county's "nonprime resource land" proposal. We have momentum, and if you take action we can protect our vital resource lands for future generations. 

Watch our new film Our Last Crop for ideas, or use some of the talking points below to make your voice heard. 


Deschutes County
NONPRIME RESOURCE LAND
Planning Commission Hearings

  • May 23, 2019 - 5:30pm - Deschutes Services Center, Barnes and Sawyer rooms, 1300 Wall Street, Bend

  • June 13, 2019 - 5:30pm - Deschutes Services Center, Barnes and Sawyer rooms, 1300 Wall Street, Bend

Email comments to 
PlanningCommission@deschutes.org and board@deschutes.org 
Background and talking points below.


Background: Agricultural land in Oregon has been long protected by Oregon's land use system. The Exclusive Farm Use (EFU) zone was intended to limit development that might be in conflict with farming practices, harm wildlife, or permanently alter the character or productivity of the land. These protections were not dependent on the current use of land, but on preservation for future generations. 

Over time, development pressure has eroded these protections, and more than 50 non-farm uses are allowed on EFU. Despite our region's rapid rate of development, Deschutes and other counties have made many attempts to reclassify resource lands to further facilitate residential development in rural areas. 

This type of development is harmful to farmers and ranchers, and puts a strain on community resources when infrastructure like roads, sewer, schools and medical services need to be extended beyond urban growth boundaries. Our wildlife are also at risk, as much of the habitat is protected only by the EFU designation. Fragmentation of the landscape permanently alters wildlife corridors forged by centuries of migration. 

Please take time to submit comments to the Deschutes County Planning Commission, or better yet give in-person testimony, to oppose the rezoning of these important lands for harmful development that would forever impact our way of life in Central Oregon. 

TALKING POINTS
TIP: When emailing comments, it helps to use your own voice rather than sending these talking points word-for-word!

  • It is critical to stop Deschutes County’s proposal to allow rezoning of agricultural lands as “nonprime resource lands” to enable nonfarm development.

  • Deschutes County earlier proposed to implement plans similar to this, but they have been unsuccessful. In the last attempt, it was determined that resource lands in Deschutes County had not been mistakenly zoned as resource.

  • Even though a landowner may not now be using the land for farming and ranching, it is important that we hold these lands in trust for future generations to farm or otherwise enjoy.

  • Agriculture is an important part of the character of Central Oregon, and important to our identity as Central Oregonians.

  • Making it easier to develop in the county hurts farmers and ranchers by increasing the cost of land and increasing conflicts between agricultural and residential uses.  

  • Development will reduce our access to local food, which is nutritious as well as good for the environment. Having local food available is important for food security and the local economy.

  • There is already a process in place for landowners to rezone their land for nonfarm uses like residences and industrial uses. This process seems to be working considering the rate of rural development, and if anything regulations to consider such development should be strengthened.

  • Facilitating rural development will not alleviate Bend’s affordability crisis. Living far from jobs and services costs people more money for transportation, vehicle maintenance, and childcare.

  • Rural residential development requires expensive infrastructure and services like schools, fire, and police to be extended out of the city. This means higher taxes and reduced ability to maintain the infrastructure we already have.

  • Lands zoned for Exclusive Farm Use (EFU) provide valuable wildlife habitat. Residential development will have a cumulative negative impact on wildlife.

  • When Deschutes County wildlife habitat was inventoried, some of the habitat was not separately protected due to the presumption of strong EFU protections. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s stakeholder input to Deschutes County’s “Agricultural Lands Program Community Involvement Results” report warned against the impacts of greater development in wildlife habitat, “There will be a breaking point at which time the health and welfare of certain species will be permanently compromised.” (p.30).


Deschutes County
NONPRIME RESOURCE LAND
Planning Commission Hearings

  • May 23, 2019 - 5:30pm - Deschutes Services Center, Barnes and Sawyer rooms, 1300 Wall Street, Bend

  • June 13, 2019 - 5:30pm - Deschutes Services Center, Barnes and Sawyer rooms, 1300 Wall Street, Bend

Email comments to 
PlanningCommission@deschutes.org and board@deschutes.org 
Background and talking points below.