Significant Natural Resources

Project Manager Michelle Miller, Senior Planner | 503-846-8101

Significant Natural ResourcesThe Significant Natural Resources (SNR) Program Review and Assessment (SNR Report) is a comprehensive examination of Washington County's Goal 5 program as it relates to natural resources in the urban area and provides a road map for modifications to County regulations to address identified issues.

The SNR Assessment includes a summary of public comment received on the Draft SNR Assessment issued in October 2019, modifications in response to comments and the Board of Commissioners’ direction on recommendations in the draft. Additional materials may be found in the Technical Appendices. A supplement to the SNR Assessment, the Public Input and Engagement Report documents feedback received during the Draft SNR Assessment public comment period from Oct. 21 - Dec. 31, 2019.

This work was initiated as part of the 2018-19 Long Range Planning Annual Work Program. The Board identified the topic as a priority, based on community concerns regarding the County’s SNR protections in the development review process, particularly on lands with wildlife habitat.

Staff research included:

  • Review of local, state and federal regulations and Land Use Board of Appeal (LUBA) decisions concerning significant natural resources.
  • Review of the historical background of the County’s natural resource inventory, program and regulations.
  • Review of the County's land use review processes.
  • Stakeholder engagement including Community Participation Organizations (CPOs), developers and other interested parties to gather input and comments regarding the County’s SNR regulations.
  • A five-week open house that included project background, key findings, a timeline and survey.
  • Review of land use decisions involving significant natural resources.
  • Review of the County's tree removal and permit requirements.

About Significant Natural Resources

The County’s significant natural resources, including riparian areas, water areas, wetlands and fish and wildlife habitat, are shown in community plans and the Rural/Natural Resource Plan.

Statewide Planning Goal 5 requires local governments to identify significant natural resources and to adopt programs to protect and classify these important natural areas. The County inventoried locally significant natural resources, including fish and wildlife habitats, and adopted policies and standards in the early 1980s.

The Community Development Code Section 422 includes significant natural resource requirements for proposed development in the County’s urban unincorporated area. The regulations allow for limited development in areas with significant natural resources while providing appropriate protection or mitigation of impacts. If a proposed development interferes with or impacts a protected area, the developer must provide recommendations to reduce the impact and/or offset any loss of habitat.

Program Review and Assessment and ordinance development timeline


  • Oct. 4, 2019: Draft Program Review and Assessment issued
  • Oct. 21-Dec. 31, 2019: Public comment and community outreach
  • March 2020: Final recommendations discussed with the Board
  • May 2020: Published SNR Program Review and Assessment, Technical Appendices and Public Input and Engagement Report
  • May to October 2020: Several ordinances to address recommendations in the Report are under development.  See Ordinances Under Review