Action Alert: Take Action to Support Floodplain Protection in Portland

The City of Portland is currently accepting public comments on a new Floodplain Resilience Plan which will increase floodplain protections throughout much of Portland. The purpose of the plan is “to reduce the impacts of future flooding and the degradation of floodplain habitat for endangered and threatened fish species.” The plan is a direct result of a lawsuit brought by Bird Alliance of Oregon and other conservation groups against the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Bird Alliance of Oregon et al. v. FEMA) in 2011 which found that current floodplain regulations across Oregon are jeopardizing the existence of federally listed salmon and steelhead, as well as resident killer whales that depend on salmon for survival. In order for municipalities to remain eligible for the National Flood Insurance Program, communities across Oregon with salmon bearing streams must update their local codes to ensure that floodplain development avoids, minimizes or mitigates any harm to salmon or steelhead.

Willamette River 1996 Flood overhead photo
Willamette River 1996 Floods

There has been tremendous pushback by development interests and it is critical that the City of Portland hear from the public that we want strong protections for our floodplains. With more than 125 miles of rivers and streams located within Portland, this plan represents a major step forward for natural resource protection, climate resilience, and community safety in Portland. It is also likely to set the standard for communities throughout the state that will need to follow.

Please submit comments to the City of Portland before January 28, 2022 and let the City know that you:

  • Support advancing the Floodplain Resilience Plan for adoption by the Planning and Sustainability Commission and Portland City Council.
  • Support updating the City’s floodplain maps to include all areas within the 100-year floodplain and areas inundated in the 1996 floods.
  • Support including all floodplains within the project area that are within an environmental or river overlay zone;
  • Support increasing mitigation ratios for trees removed and loss of flood storage capacity when floodplains are developed.
  • Support applying additional habitat requirements within 170 feet of ordinary high water to increase habitat near rivers and streams.
  • Support creating habitat mitigation banks to compensate for loss of habitat function if floodplains are developed
  • Encourage the City to update floodplain regulations in portions of the city not covered in this plan along the North Reach of the Willamette and Johnson Creek within 3 years. 

This plan represents a major step forward in Portland to protect our rivers and streams and imperiled species and to create more climate resilient landscapes, but it will only advance with strong support from the community.

Thank you for taking action and submitting your comments by January 28, 2022!