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Urban and Rural Reserves in Clackamas County

Learn about land suitable for future urban development (urban reserves) as well as land suitable for long-term protection of farms, forests and/or natural areas (rural reserves).

In response to an oral remand from the state Department of Land Conservation and Development, reserves designations in Metro and Washington County were revised early in 2011. While there were no changes to map designations in Clackamas County, the County needed to co-adopt a set of overall findings prepared by Metro and revised its 2010 findings to clarify the reasons for its reserves designations.

For more information, contact Martha Fritzie, 503-742-4529 or

From 2008 through 2010, Clackamas County worked with neighboring Multnomah and Washington counties and Portland’s regional government, Metro, to identify land suitable for future urban development (urban reserves) as well as land suitable for long-term protection of farms, forests and/or natural areas (rural reserves). This regional process for identifying Urban and Rural Reserves was designed to meet these needs for the Portland Metropolitan Area for the next 40-50 years.

On February 25, 2010, the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners approved an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Metro to designate 13,750 acres of urban reserves and 70,500 acres of rural reserves in Clackamas County for the next 50 years. The other partners in the reserves process approved their IGAs the same week. This action was followed in March and April 2010 by approval of the County Planning Commission, and then the Board of County Commissioners, of changes to the County’s Comprehensive Plan needed to implement the reserves. In May 2010, the Board approved a revised IGA.


The Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), a cornerstone of Oregon’s land use planning, is an imaginary line that identifies areas planned for urban development and distinguishes them from areas planned for rural uses. In the Portland Metropolitan Area, the regional government (Metro) is responsible for adopting the UGB and ensuring that it contains sufficient buildable land to meet projected growth. Before 2008, Metro was required by state land use laws to consider current zoning (which is based largely on the quality of the soil) above everything else in determining where to expand the UGB. Many people felt that, because this approach didn’t address other important issues such as available infrastructure, topography, etc., it didn’t result in expansion in areas best suited for developing healthy, vibrant urban communities.

In 2007, the Oregon legislature enacted a law (Senate Bill 1011) that allowed the three Portland area counties (Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington) and Metro to work together to establish urban reserves based on an expanded list of factors. For the first time, rural reserves were also allowed in order to provide long-term protection to the region’s most valuable and financially viable farms and commercial forests, as well as to protect significant natural features such as wetlands, rivers and floodplains, buttes and savannas from urban development.

Purpose of Reserves Process



The Urban and Rural Reserves process in Clackamas County involved two years of study, meetings, research, public hearings, technical work and discussions involving a citizen committee, staff committee, the Planning Commission, the Board of County Commissioners, regional groups and a great deal of dialogue with the public. For details and documentation related to the urban and rural reserves process in Clackamas County, contact Martha Fritzie, 503-742-4529 or

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