In 2014, Wasco County invested, in collaboration with partners, to have Lidar data developed for Wasco County. Lidar, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth. These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system — generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.
One of the goals of obtaining new data was to update what citizens and staff identified as “inaccurately delineated FEMA floodplain maps”. There are many places in the County, for instance, where the Floodplain is off center from waterways. The new, more accurate data was supplied to FEMA to revise their Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or floodplain maps. FEMA has information on what flood map updates mean for you.
Citizens and the Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan Steering Committee also identified the need for updated Geological Hazard/Landslide (Overlay Zone 2) data and maps. Planning staff worked with DOGAMI (Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries) to leverage the Lidar data for updated Geological/Landslide Hazard maps. Planning staff has simulateneoulsy analyzed our Overlay Zone 2 (Geological Hazard) rules and criteria to ensure it is effective at supporting development while reducing risk.
The goal of these new maps is to more accurately reflect natural hazard risk and provide opportunities to reduce risk through mitigated development action. In addition, Wasco County must stay consistent with FEMA regulations in order to ensure all citizens are able to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program, which offers flood insurance at reduced rates.
Wasco County sent a notice to impacted properties in 2018 informing them of the process and that field surveys would be occuring to assess the analysis. You can read the letter here:
Additional letters explaining the update Floodplain potential impacts, appeal process, and the opportunity to provide comments or ask questions will be sent to impacted property owners in May 2023. Letters to property owners impacted by updates to the Geological Hazards (landslide) zone will be sent at a later date once the analysis is complete.