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The Big Look

OPB | Aug. 18, 2008 midnight | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:43 p.m.

What is land of state-wide importance?

By 2040 an expected 1.7 million more people (pdf) will live in Oregon. We’ve talked about the state’s expected growth before, but we haven’t delved into the specific questions of how our land should be used to accommodate that growth. Some state officials have had exactly that on their minds. In 2005 the Oregon Legislature created The Big Look Task Force to evaluate Oregon’s land use planning program and make suggestions for reform.

Over the last three years (with a little break in the middle) the task force has talked about water and sewers, roads and transportation, farmland and urban land. They’ve taken climate change and economic development and increasing oil prices into consideration.

The task force has heard from over 200 people. They met in Madras last week to tweak the fine points of their proposal. And now they’re just about ready to begin a public outreach campaign before presenting their recommendations to the legislature in 2009.

One thing they’re attempting to do is to identify land of statewide importance. They want to maintain farms, forest, and natural areas there. And then consider how to deal with land that is described as less “important.” They also want to give much of the control of that land over to rural communities to determine how best to manage it.

How do you expect population growth will impact your community? Do you feel your land is of “statewide importance?” What should happen to areas determined to be of statewide importance but that are also at risk of development in a quickly growing area? What should win out — commerce or countryside? And what to do with the land that’s not of statewide importance?

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