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Land Use Planning and Climate Change

View of wind turbines overlooking a farmLargely due to pollution from human activities, global temperatures are rising and extreme weather events are growing more frequent and severe. The climate changes already underway, and future climate disruption, are a major challenge for today's Oregonians.

As an agency that supports comprehensive planning in partnership with cities, counties and regional entities throughout Oregon, DLCD's programs address climate change mitigation, adaptation, and sequestration. Mitigation consists of actions taken to slow or stop climate change from occurring, by reducing greenhouse gas pollution. Adaptation refers to actions that deal with the effects of climate change, such as revising floodplain ordinances to address higher water levels. Sequestration involves the long-term storage of carbon as a way to slow the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and can be implemented as both mitigation and adaptation strategies.

DLCD addresses mitigation and adaptation of climate change in three areas: Land Use and Transportation, Natural Hazards, and Coastal Management. More information on these topics can be found below and on the Climate Change Resources web page.

Oregon's coordinated land use program was founded to preserve our natural and working lands for resource use and ensure thoughtful and strategic development of urban areas. The farms, forests, ranches, and estuaries protected by the land use program also have tremendous capacity to store carbon in biomass and in soils. DLCD is currently collaborating with other state agencies to identify opportunities for aligning our various programs and regulatory frameworks to expand on that capacity in ways that can mitigate climate related impacts to our natural and working lands.

Combatting Climate Change is Central to DLCD's Work

Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities Rulemaking

LCDC initiated rulemaking on Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities in September 2020. The rulemaking will focus on significantly strengthening Oregon’s administrative rules about transportation and housing planning, with an emphasis on planning within Oregon's eight urban areas with populations over 50,000 (Albany, Bend, Corvallis, Eugene/Springfield, Grants Pass, Medford/Ashland, Portland Metro, Salem/Keizer). Some of the rule changes may apply to communities outside those areas. Learn more and sign up for e-mail updates.

Climate change's effects are already being felt by Oregonians. Largely due to pollution from human activities, global temperatures are rising and extreme weather events are growing more frequent and severe. Snowpack is declining, summer streamflow is lowering, wildfire activity is increasing, sea level is rising, and coastal waters are acidifying. The future is likely to have:

  • More summer droughts
  • More frequent extreme heat days
  • More frequent and longer forest fires
  • Greater vulnerability of forests to insects and disease
  • Water resource conflicts
  • Longer and more intense allergy seasons
  • Decreased water quality and quantity
  • More stress on fish, including salmon
  • Higher sea levels and more erosion in coastal areas
  • More frequent and harmful floods

Sources:

Oregon Climate Change Research Institute (OCCRI)​
Oregon Climate Change Adaptation Framework (2021)
Oregon Climate Change Adaptation Framework (2010)​

Each of the 24 state agencies involved in the creation of the 2020 Oregon Climate Change Adaptation Framework are committed to performing a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. As the coordinating agency for the Adaptation Framework, DLCD is performing this Vulnerability Assessment as it relates to work and policies within the authority of the agency.

DLCD webpage for Climate Change Vulnerability

Transportation is the largest contributor to global warming in Oregon, making up about 40% of Oregon's climate emissions. While other agencies work to change how much cars and trucks pollute, DLCD works to diversify transportation choices and reduce how often Oregonians must drive.

Well-designed communities allow Oregonians to choose public transit, biking, or walking for errands, outings, and trips to work, school, and places of worship. Oregon's urban growth boundaries and planning framework are a proven way to cut greenhouse gas pollution from transportation.

Through grants and technical assistance to local governments, DLCD and our partner agency, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), help create communities with shorter and less frequent car trips by implementing Oregon's planning goals related to transportation, housing, and urban growth. Land use plans that mix housing with employment and other uses mean families no longer need to drive as much – saving them money and reducing pollution. DLCD also works with communities to place housing near transit so that residents aren't dependent on driving. For example, the Portland region's efforts to mix residential and employment uses and encourage other means of travel have​ cut carbon emissions per capita by 22% since 1990 while saving the average household several hundred dollars a year.

DLCD has published resources for cities, such as Cool Planning: A Handbook on Local Strategies to Slow Climate Change​ (2011). We have also had statewide tours from national speakers, and hire consultants to help cities increase housing and transportation choices through ODOT and DLCD's Transportation and Growth Management Program and other planning grants.

With ODOT, DLCD helps lead the Oregon Sustainable Transportation Initiative, which provides a roadmap for reducing global warming pollution from transportation. Through scenario planning tools and technical assistance, our agencies provide guidance on how much certain actions cut pollution. Using the tools, the initiative allows communities to identify feasible ways to reduce the pollution from driving, such as reforming parking management, changing land use patterns, and increasing downtown housing.

For more detailed information about land use, transportation, carbon emissions, and greenhouse gas reduction, see the Land Use and Transportation Planning for Climate Change​​ web page.

Climate change will make Oregon's natural hazards more frequent and severe, and result in new natural hazards. For the State of Oregon, DLCD builds and maintains the Oregon Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan​, which identifies eleven natural hazards: coastal erosion, drought, dust storms, earthquakes, wildfire, floods, landslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, windstorms, and winter storms. This plan includes a description of each hazard, and explains what can be done to reduce or eliminate long-term risk of damage to life, property, and resources.


For the Oregon coast, the most significant effects of climate change will be sea level rise, increasing extreme storms and wave heights, and ocean acidification.

Sea level rise means waves will break closer to the coastline, increasing erosion to dunes and bluffs. With increased levels of erosion and flooding, the threat to oceanfront development will increase, including to private property, public facilities and infrastructure. Beach accessibility will also decline as the width of the beach decreases.

Understanding public assets at risk of flooding now and into the future from sea level rise is one way to address the impacts of sea level rise. DLCD's Oregon Coastal Management Program (OCMP) developed an exposure inventory of Oregon's estuaries to serve as a statewide resource for sea level rise planning in and around estuaries. This exposure inventory determines the assets and geographies most likely to be affected by flooding (driven by sea level rise) and prioritizes areas to focus future resources and investigation.

Climate change is also increasing the acidity of coastal waters, making shellfish and other marine and estuarine species more vulnerable. DLCD staff participate on the Oregon Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Task Force​ and help maintain its web site.

Additionally, OCMP staff provide ongoing support, education, outreach, and technical assistance to various agencies and organizations on climate change topics at the national, state, and local level.​

Stay Up-To-Date on DLCD's Climate Work

Click here to sign up for GovDelivery email notices about DLCD's climate work.


Contacts

Christine Shirley
Climate Change Resilience Coordinator
christine.shirley@dlcd.oregon.gov
Phone: 971-239-9457

Cody Meyer
Land Use and Transportation Planner
cody.meyer@dlcd.oregon.gov
Phone: 971-239-9475

Meg Reed
Coastal Shores Specialist
meg.reed@dlcd.oregon.gov
Phone: 541-514-0091