The Pilot Program for Regional Farm and Forest Land Conservation was enacted through Executive Order No. 12-07, which directed the Department of Land Conservation and Development to work with Douglas, Jackson and Josephine counties, and with other state agencies.
Executive Order (EO) 12-07 followed legislative activity in the 2011 and 2012 sessions. Then, two bills, HB 3615 and HB 4095 were introduced which would have given Douglas, Jackson and Josephine counties the ability to recommend new, regional definitions to Statewide Planning Goals, 3-Farmland, and 4-Forestland, to LCDC. Though ultimately these bills were not adopted, they would have allocated money to the three counties, and to several state agencies, to support the work necessary to propose the regional goal definitions, map affected lands and develop standards for development on the lands no longer designated as resource lands. The Governor’s Office was involved in discussion with legislative leadership in both sessions, with regard to deliberations on these bills, and at the end of the 2012 session agreed to issue an executive order that mirrored, though not completely, key aspects that were contained in the prior proposed legislation.
EO 12-07 directed the department to make the legislatively approved $350,000 available to the three counties, should they elect to proceed with the project, and collaboratively work with them to prepare material necessary for a petition for rulemaking to the commission no earlier than July 1, 2013. $200,000 was also made available to the department for assistance by state agencies, including DLCD, with this project. These funds were available only through the 2011-13 biennium (June 30, 2013). A Grant Contract was agreed to by the department and the three counties which outlined the work and expectations of the project for the 2011-13 biennium.
While the three counties made progress on the project, towards the end of the 2011-13 biennium it was apparent that they would not be able to complete the requisite work by the end of the biennium and the remaining unspent funds could not transfer to the next biennium. Therefore, representatives from the three counties approached the legislature to request funding for the project in the 2013-15 biennium. The legislature responded by providing $246,000 to the three counties and $100,000 to the state to complete the work.
In the meantime, the three counties submitted various work products to the department. Those work products as well as additional local information on the project can be found at http://www.soregionalpilot.org/. In response to the submitted work products, the department issued a coordinated state agency letter to the counties.
A new Grant Contract was then agreed upon by the department and the three counties for the 2013-15 biennium. The new Grant Contract largely mirrored the previous grant contract but provided for some modifications to the work products and expectations based upon ongoing discussions between the counties and the state.
Since the issuance of the Grant Contract for the 2013-15 biennium, the counties have largely been quietly working on the project. Of the three counties, only Jackson County has held public meetings to discuss the project.