Please Urge Portland City Council to Protect Natural Resources by Updating Maps

We need your help to ensure that the Portland City Council moves forward with adopting updated and accurate maps to protect critical natural resources such as streams, wetlands, forests, steep slopes, and wildlife habitat inside the City. Since 1989, Portland has utilized environmental zones (Ezones) to protect these types of natural features. However, much of the mapping is decades old. Over the past three years, the City has utilized modern technology such as LiDAR and more than 600 site visits to individual properties by staff to update Portland’s Ezone maps. The updated maps went through 11 hearings and work sessions before the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) and will go before the Portland City Council at 1 p.m. on February 16.

It is critical that the Portland City Council hear from the Community that we want Council to move forward and adopt the corrected maps. Environmental initiatives have stalled at City Council in recent years and this project is likely to get some pushback from some landowners who do not want to have to protect natural resources. After years of work and extensive review at the PSC, there is no reason to delay—Council should expeditiously adopt the corrected maps. 

A photo of the Willamette River and the buildings and natural areas around it.
Photo by Dog97209/Flickr

This project is not about creating new policies—it is simply about ensuring that protections are accurately applied to natural resources where they exist. While this is kind of “wonky” stuff, accurately mapping and applying natural resource protections is foundational to protecting our environment. It is absurd to use long outdated maps, when new much more accurate mapping exists.

Take Action

Please write to the Portland City Council and let them know that you want them to proceed forward and adopt the Updated Environmental Zone Mapping. Use the subject line “Please support passage of the Ezone Map Correction Project”.

Talking Points:

  • It is critical that council adopt the Ezone Map Correction Project.
  • Updated Ezone maps are needed to replace the existing inaccurate maps and allow the CIty to meet its own natural resource protection policies. This project will ensure Portland’s long-standing natural resource protections will be applied correctly and as intended.
  • Protecting Portland’s streams, wetlands, steep slopes, forests/woodlands, and wildlife habitat has never been more important. Given the climate crisis, we know that flooding, landslides, and wildfires are becoming more frequent and intense. The updated Ezone maps will help mitigate the climate crisis by better protecting its streams, floodplains, wetlands, and forest/woodlands, which in turn sequester carbon, mitigate flooding and landslides impacts, and help cool and purify air and water, and provide habitat for threatened and endangered fish and wildlife. 
  • This project reflects substantial public investment and unprecedented “boots on the ground” and connection with property owners. This project has been a huge investment for the city and the community. For more than three years the staff went to meet with Portlanders at their own meetings, and conducted more than 600 site visits to individual properties where property owners and staff conferred about the effort and the natural resources on the site.