Conserving Working Lands in Oregon

The Oregon Working Lands Data Bank
July 2015

Oregon’s rich agricultural heritage and diverse working lands have drawn people to live and work in the state for more than 150 years. Forestry and farming have long been central to Oregon’s economy, thanks in part to the state’s unique climate and unparalleled soils. Oregon’s working lands are the cornerstone of rural farming and ranching communities, and they provide myriad benefits to the natural environment including vital wildlife habitat and habitat linkages, and ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and drought resilience.

In partnership with the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts and partners throughout the state, The Trust for Public Land2015-07-20_04-23-06_PM undertook the Oregon Working Lands Data Bank project in order to provide accessible Geographic Information System (GIS)-based data on changes to working lands in Oregon. The Data Bank is intended to identify factors influencing the conversion of working lands and bring to light opportunities to protect and enhance working lands, which are essential for Oregon’s future as a livable and productive state.

This report is based on extensive review of publicly-available data and literature; consultation with local partners; meetings with a 37-member Advisory Committee for the project made up of stakeholders representing farm, ranch, and timber communities, public agencies, and land trusts; and interviews with agricultural and forest landowners throughout Oregon. The report provides context for the Data Bank, which is accessible here.

In this report, The Trust for Public Land assesses and describes the current state of Oregon’s working lands. The report includes descriptions of growth, land use laws, loss of working lands (and factors related to loss of working lands), and preservation of working lands. Appendices include an overview of Farm Bill conservation programs and an inventory of studies, data, research, and plans related to Oregon working lands. In spite of the challenges for working lands in Oregon, there have been many success stories in which conservation efforts have helped keep working lands in production while protecting vital natural resources. Case studies illustrating some of these success stories are included throughout this report.