By MITCH LIES
May 29, 2012
Gov. John Kitzhaber has directed the state Department of Land Conservation and Development to work with three Southern Oregon counties on redefining farmland and forestland.
The executive order makes available $350,000 in grants for Jackson, Josephine and Douglas counties to study, map and petition the state Land Conservation and Development Commission to redefine land uses.
It also directs the department to work with the counties, providing they choose to participate.
The landmark order could lead to the first regional definition of farm and forestland in the nearly 40-year history of Oregon’s statewide land-use system, said Dave Hunnicutt, president of the property rights group Oregonians in Action.
“(The executive order) is a monumental order in Oregon land-use planning history,” Hunnicutt wrote on the organization’s website. “If successful, we will have the first new definition of agricultural land and forestland.”
Hunnicutt said hundreds of thousands of acres in Oregon are zoned for farm or forest uses, but can’t sustain profitable farm or forest operations.
Kitzhaber made a similar statement in his executive order.
“In some areas, lands currently planned for resource uses have little direct value to their owners for those uses,” Kitzhaber wrote.
The order stipulates lands rezoned for non-farm or non-forest uses won’t interfere with nearby farm or forest uses, won’t interfere with future urbanizations of nearby cities and won’t create unsustainable fiscal impacts on local governments and the state.
It calls on DLCD to provide a status report to the governor and the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2014.
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