On May 10, 2012, Governor Kitzhaber signed Executive Order (EO) 12-07, which establishes a "Pilot Program for Regional Farm and Forest Land Conservation." The pilot program involves three counties—Douglas, Jackson, and Josephine—and authorizes them to enter into a regional process to enable these counties to develop a plan to allow "...appropriate additional regional variation in what lands must be planned and managed as farm and forest lands." Under the Executive Order, the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) is the lead agency for the State, providing financial, administrative, and technical assistance to support the collaborative, regional approach envisioned for the Project. The Executive Order also stipulates the participation of the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Forestry, and the Water Resources Department.
Depending on the eventual petition developed by the three counties after an extensive technical and public process, DLCD will determine whether the counties' proposals are likely to require amendments to statewide land use planning goals 3 (Agriculture) and 4 (Forestry). The proposed amendments, and any implementing rules associated with those amendments, must be approved by the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC). The timeline contemplated in the scope of work authorized by DLCD in its grant agreement with RVCOG fixes the end of the first phase of the pilot project on the last day of the 2012/2013 fiscal year, which is June 30, 2013. Should the petition for rulemaking to be submitted to DLCD by the counties not be ready by that date, the participating counties will be required to submit a project summary of activities to date instead.
The Executive Order allows significant latitude on the part of the counties to identify and propose solutions to the issues related to the current distribution and description of what constitutes farm and forest land in the three participating counties, although there are a number of guidelines established that provide a broad framework within which the counties must operate. One such guideline stipulates that the "...proposed rules developed for LCDC's consideration will be designed so that lands that are functionally important to the types of farming and forest operations that occur or that are likely to occur in the future, within the area that would be covered by the rules, are retained in farm or forest planning and zoning designations." Another states that any resource lands rezoned to non-resource lands are "...planned and zoned for types of uses and at levels that: (a) will not significantly interfere with nearby farm or forest uses; (b) will not significantly interfere with the future urbanization of nearby cities; (c) are sustainable in terms of fiscal impacts to local and state government...; and (d) are sustainable in terms of their effects on water supplies, transportation, water quality, fire protection, wildlife, and fish and wildlife habitat". In addition, the Executive Order mandates that any "...newly allowed uses do not exceed the carrying capacity of the lands".
The Grant Contracts between the State and the counties further define the purpose statement of this program as follows:
Utilizing the direction provided in Executive Order 12-07, the Regional Partners, consisting of Douglas County, Jackson County, and Josephine County, will analyze identified strategies that may allow appropriate variation in what lands must be planned and managed as farm and forest lands in Douglas, Jackson, and Josephine counties. As the grant administrator, the Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG) will provide administrative coordination and grant related support. The program consists of three major phases:
Analysis of regional definitions and criteria for farm and forest lands, to explore:
- Alternative forest land designation, including revised methods for the authorization of dwellings;Alternative farm parcel size opportunities; and
- Designating non-resource lands.
This phase will be:
- The identification of mapping errors made in the acknowledgement process; and
- An analysis of the appropriate level and types of uses on the carrying capacity
of the land and of pursuing the approaches listed above, as outlined in
Executive Order 12-07.
Preparation of a petition for rulemaking submitted by two or more counties to the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC); or, a project summary report if information necessary to prepare a petition is not completed.