Work task 18 of the Wasco County 2040 Comprehensive Plan Update is to update our overlay zones, called environmental protection districts, with updated wildlife information from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).
Staff has prepared an FAQ to answer some of the questions about this process.
Environmental Protection District (EPD) 8, the Sensitive Wildlife, protects big game habitat in Wasco County. Protections are applied at the time of development application and can include requirements such as clustering development to keep away from the migratory path or habitat of deer and elk.
EPD 8 was developed and implemented in Wasco County since the 1983 Comprehensive Plan adoption. There have been some revisions to the map and ordinance language since that time.
During the 2017 visioning phase of Wasco County 2040, ODFW alerted Wasco County Planning that EPD 8 was inconsistent with their data on big game habitat. ODFW relies on their map when consulting with applicants and property owners on most development projects in Wasco County. The result of the inconsistency has been to create confusion among applicants and property owners who believe they are not in Big Game Winter Range based on Wasco County’s EPD-8, but find after consultation or comment from ODFW that they are.
ODFW has prepared a revision to EPD 8 to make Wasco County’s map consistent with theirs and clarify to all residents and property owners of wildlife protections. During this process of revision, Planning staff has worked with ODFW towards streamlining the regulation to lessen the burden on property owners while still protecting the wildlife resources.
What the updates will not do:
- Change the underlying zone
- Prohibit development outright
- Add new regulations
What the updates may do:
- Make the map consistent with ODFW’s map
- Make the map consistent with Goal 5 requirements
- Make it clear which properties will be of interest to ODFW during a subject to standards or conditional use review
- Clarify and streamline existing language
- Remove voluntary siting standards and unnecessary regulation
- Ensure for accurate implementation of protections
The first map shows the current EPD 8. It currently has multiple categories of protection. The light yellowish and tan colors typically fall within voluntary standards which are being proposed to be removed.
This map shows the proposed refined based on ODFW data. The revision removes some lands, while adding lands to the east and south of Wasco County. It’s important to reiterate that these lands, when applying for a subject to standards or conditional use permit, are currently subject to restrictions from ODFW because ODFW uses their data and map. You can view ODFW’s map tool here: https://dfw.state.or.us/maps/compass/ Select ODFW Deer Winter Range (Eastern OR) and ODFW Elk Winter Range (Eastern OR) from the Crucial Habitat Assessment: Terrestrial Crucial Habitat layer.
The ODFW data and map are being utilized to refine the Wasco County map.
To view a pdf of the proposed EPD 8 see this: ProposedEPD8
So while the change looks big, the restrictions to property owners should be fewer. Planning staff has prepared a handout with more information that will be available at our February events or you can download and view/print here: EPD-8
EPD-12, Sensitive Birds, protects ODFW identified sensitive birds and their habitat. Bird species include peregrine falcons, burrowing owls, and golden eagles. A significant amount of research has been compiled about nesting sites and habitat over the last several years, some in response to wind turbine facilities. As a result, ODFW has requested Wasco County update its EPD-12.
EPD 12 is different than EPD 8 in a couple of critical ways:
- The map is confidential, so we can only show to property owners at the time of application
- The map consists of buffers around habitat sites, so typically does not involve the whole property but merely a portion
- The EPD regulations only apply to the buffered area
- Forest and farm practices as defined by State law are not subject to the EPD regulations
- All applications for development within the buffer area must submit a sensitive resource plan that is reviewed by ODFW
- For development within the buffer, ODFW may require restrictions on timing or characteristics of development to limit disturbance
The revision to this map will add some properties and also remove some properties. ODFW has also recommended an implementation strategy to revisit the map every five years or when new data becomes available.
We will be refining the rules related to these EPDs over the next month. Part of this process includes an analysis that we want your feedback on! To take our EPD-8 survey, please go here. To take our EPD-12 survey, please go here. You can submit comment at any time here.
We will be compiling data and running the analysis based on feedback from survey, the roadshow meetings in February and data/information related to big game and conflicting uses. Preliminary findings will be presented at the March 3rd Citizen Advisory Group meeting. Final findings will be available one week in advance ahead of the April 2nd Planning Commission meeting.