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Habitat inventory

Planning and conservation    Regional planning and policy    Nature in Neighborhoods    Protecting habitat and water    Habitat inventory

Learn about Metro's habitat inventory that identified 80,000 acres of significant natural areas. Use an online tool to see if a property is included in the inventory.

Search the inventory

Enter an address and find out if that property is in the habitat inventory. Go to the tool

An extensive review of the scientific literature, mapping and field work helped Metro develop two sets of criteria to identify the location and health of fish and wildlife habitat: one for waterside, or riparian, habitat and one for drier upland wildlife habitat. In 2001, Metro mapped the specific landscape features associated with these criteria, such as the location of trees, shrubs, wetlands, flood areas and steep slopes. The state of Oregon's independent multi-disciplinary science team has favorably reviewed Metro's research. Habitat areas were then ranked based on their relative health and importance for providing benefits to fish and wildlife. Resulting maps show low to high value riparian (near water) habitat and upland habitat areas (further from water).

The inventory identifies approximately 80,000 acres of regionally significant habitat within Metro's jurisdictional boundary, an area slightly larger than the urban growth boundary containing approximately 280,000 acres. Among the areas defined as "regionally significant," the inventory distinguishes between habitat areas of higher or lower environmental quality.

After public review, in August 2002, the Metro Council approved the inventory. A process exists for correcting the inventory to incorporate improved information. New maps are printed as time and resources allow.

Habitat quality: good, better, best

Once the inventory was complete and field-tested, the riparian and upland wildlife habitat inventories were classified and habitat areas were categorized according to their "quality." Approximately one-third of the riparian habitat and one-quarter of the upland habitat are classified as the highest quality habitat.

Understanding the inventory

In addition to the quality of habitat areas, other characteristics must be considered while developing a protection program. Two important factors are: how land is used or zoned and how land is currently developed (if at all).The Metro Council, together with local partners and residents, will consider how to tailor the regional protection program to habitat lands depending on habitat quality, economic and social value of land and development status (vacant vs. buildable).

Land-use zoning categories

Nearly 30 percent of the land in Metro's jurisdictional boundary has been identified as regionally significant habitat. Of that, half is zoned residential, 20 percent is zoned parks and open spaces, 14 percent is zoned industrial with rural, commercial and mixed-use comprising the remaining 16 percent. Most of the habitat land between the UGB and Metro's jurisdictional boundary is zoned rural. The rural lands added to the UGB in 2002 have yet to be rezoned from rural to urban land uses.

Development Status

Breakdown of habitat lands in the UGB by development status

Development status influences which policy tools are most appropriate and effective in balancing habitat protection and economic vitality.

Vacant refers to land that has no buildings, improvements or identifiable land use.

  • "Constrained land" consists of environmentally sensitive vacant lands that are already under existing regulations for water quality, wetland and floodplain protection. Constrained land is not necessarily unbuildable. For example, from 1998 to 2000, 363 acres of vegetated corridors established for water quality protection were developed.
  • "Buildable land" is vacant land not constrained by existing environmental regulations. Development activities on vacant buildable lands are most likely to impact regionally significant habitat.

Developed refers to land that has improvements and specific land uses. There are two kinds of developed lands: urban and parks.

  • "Urban" refers to land that is developed with residential, commercial or industrial uses.
  • "Parks" refer to lands used as public and private parks and open space, golf courses, cemeteries and trails, and are not considered available for urban development. Parks may be zoned as such or may occur in other zoning types.

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Habitat Tool

Search the region’s habitat inventory, which includes more than 800,000 acres. Then get answers, take action and connect to resources that help conserve, protect and restore wildlife habitat and protect water quality in your area.

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