About the Environmental and River Planning program

The environmental planning team works collaboratively with other bureaus, government agencies and the community on a range of projects, helping to ensure that City watershed and environmental health goals are met, along with goals for livable neighborhoods, a prosperous economy and community equity.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s Environmental Planning Program is responsible for meeting the requirements of Statewide Land Use Planning Goals (Goal 5, Natural Resources, Scenic and Historic Areas, and Open Spaces; Goal 6, Air, Water and Land Resources Quality and Goal 15, Willamette Greenway) and Metro Urban Growth Management Functional Plan (Title 13, Nature in Neighborhoods; Title 3, Water Quality and Flood Management).

Environmental Planning Program contributes to the implementation of the 2035 Comprehensive PlanClimate Action PlanRiver RenaissancePortland Watershed Management Plan and Urban Forestry Management Plan. The program also helps the City comply with the Clean Water ActEndangered Species Act and National Flood Insurance Program.

Primary activities include producing or updating citywide or area-specific natural resource inventories, environmental overlay zone maps and regulations. Program activities and products complement and reinforce other City bureau programs, such as Title 11 Trees, willing-seller land acquisition, watershed and stormwater management, urban forestry, and community stewardship and education.  

Current projects

River Plan/South Reach

This project includes a 20-year vision for the South Reach of the Willamette River, recommendations and implementation tools, including Comprehensive Plan Map and Zoning Map and Code amendments, recommendations for Citywide Design Guidelines, and an action plan for future programs, projects and activities to achieve the future vision. Natural and Scenic Resources protection plans are also plan components. The project also includes an update of the Willamette River Inventory. It is expected to be adopted by City Council in summer 2020.

Environmental Overlay Zone Map Correction Project

This project will correct the location of the environmental overlay zone boundaries to match the location of streams, wetlands, forests, steep slopes and wildlife habitat; expected to be adopted by City Council in spring 2021.

Floodplain Resilience Plan

This project is a multi-bureau effort to advance City goals to improve floodplains and flood resilience, anticipate and respond to climate change, support salmon and steelhead recovery, and encourage functional, healthy, and vibrant riverfronts. Regulatory changes are anticipated for new development in the floodplain to meet these goals, to maintain participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and to ensure compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The first phase of the project will be adopted with the River Plan/South Reach in summer 2020. The second phase, including building code changes citywide, is expected to be adopted by the beginning of 2021.

Completed projects

Willamette River Central Reach Natural Resources Protection Plan 

The Central City 2035 Plan included an inventory and recommended protection for natural resources protection in the Willamette River Central Reach.

Citywide Natural Resource Inventory 

The Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) was adopted as a Background Report and Factual Basis for the Comprehensive Plan Update.

Portland Plant List

The Portland Plant List is a user-friendly guide to native and nuisance plants in Portland and the metropolitan region. The document is used to guide revegetation in environmentally sensitive areas and eradication of nuisance plants.

Salmon-Safe City

In 2017, the City of Portland received certification as a Salmon-Safe City from Salmon-Safe Inc. to protect watersheds and help salmon recovery through improved city operations and land management practices.

Airport Futures

Airport Futures was a comprehensive planning effort for the Portland International Airport and surrounding development. The Natural Resources Inventory and environmental overlay zone maps and regulations were updated as part of the plan.

Invasive Plant Regulatory Improvement Project

The Invasive Plant Policy Review and Regulatory Improvement Project is updated to improve the City’s policies, regulations and procedures related to management of invasive plants.

City Tree Regulations

Overhaul of the City’s regulations related to management of the urban forest. The result is a consistent, cohesive framework for Portland’s trees that will enhance the canopy over time.

Title 13 Compliance

The Environmental Planning Program is leading the development of the City of Portland’s program package to comply with Metro Title 13, Nature in Neighborhoods, which includes a diverse mix of regulatory and nonregulatory programs to protect, conserve and restore important natural resources in the city.

Resource Guide for Bird-friendly Building Design

The City is partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Audubon Society of Portland to produce and build community awareness about bird-to-building collisions and develop a new resource guide for architects, designers, developers and builders. 


Jeff Caudill

City Planner II, Planning and Sustainability

Daniel Soebbing

City Planner II, River & Environmental Planning