Willamette Valley Resilience Compact


TRIG is proposing a Willamette Valley Resilience Compact among city and county governments to coordinate and enhance efforts to build the resilience of the Valley’s economy, existing natural hazards, anticipated impacts from a changing climate, public health, and food, water, and energy supply. An integrated, cooperative approach led by local governments that engages state and federal agencies, stakeholders from the private sector, and non-governmental organizations will strengthen community and regional resilience to build a sustainable future for the entire Willamette Valley. The first annual WVRC Summit, held on December 12 2011, brought together representatives and elected officials from across the Willamette Valley, along with state agencies and supporting organizations, to build momentum for the Compact adoption by local governments across the region.

The stage is set for a regional collaboration in the Willamette Valley. A number of cities, counties, and regional governments have developed climate action plans as well as formed collaborations on economic development, natural hazards mitigation, and research on water quality and quantity. In addition, TRIG’s work throughout the region in 2008-2010 assembled over 250 regional experts to review down-scaled regional climate change scenarios, identify impacts to various systems, and propose strategies for building resilience. Across the Willamette Valley, similar impacts and recommendations for reducing risk were proposed. There is great opportunity to scale up these efforts and work collaboratively on attracting technical and financial resources for the region.

Current Participation: We are currently working with the nine counties and nine county seats of the Willamette Valley, as well as Metro of Portland. We expect that participation in the Compact will be open to other cities beginning in 2012. Elected officials from different jurisdictions participated in the Summit to demonstrate their commitment to moving the Compact forward within their respective councils or commissions, including Eugene, Lane County, Oregon City, Clackamas County, Hillsboro, Metro, Albany, and Benton County. In addition, representatives from regional transportation providers, utilities, and state agencies have expressed an interest in attending and participating. For a full list of participants and representatives, click here.

TRIG’s successful work on the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact, which was awarded a 2010 Sustainability Leadership Award by ICLEI, has shown that county- and city-wide climate change planning efforts gain critical reinforcement from a shared regional vision. In adopting the Compact, the four SE Florida counties agreed to coordinate state and federal policy positions on energy and climate change, develop a regional climate action plan to seize regional mitigation and adaptation opportunities beyond the scope of individual city and county climate plans, and meet in annual summits to elevate the issue to local constituencies and mark progress against compact objectives. TRIG believes that there is great potential to develop a similar model in the Willamette Valley, yet one that meets the unique needs of our communities. 

Benefits of Working Together 

  • Effective Advocacy: Collectively, the Compact parties will have added leverage by developing joint policy positions on legislation at the federal and state level for priority interest areas (e.g. food, energy, emergency management, climate mitigation and adaptation, public health, infrastructure investments, environmental restoration, among others.).
  • Improve Efficiency: Collaboration on projects at the regional level (either scaling up from county-level initiatives or commencing new projects) and issues of interest will reduce duplication of efforts, expand on best practices, and more efficiently make use of capacity and resources.
  • Attain Scale for Effective State and Federal Agency Engagement: A Valley-wide initiative or project may be more attractive for federal or state agencies to engage due to efficiencies and effectiveness in providing technical support at a larger scale.
  • Funding Opportunities: Unique opportunities for funding from the state, federal government or foundations may emerge from the Valley-wide approach. For example, the Florida regional climate compact was able to secure $4.25 million from HUD.
  • Reduced Competition: The Compact is intended to help reduce competition between jurisdictions for funding and resources, and instead provide opportunities for collective grant writing and sharing of capacity and expertise.
  • Enhancement of Efforts and Leveraging Resources: A Valley-wide approach to implementing projects and strategies may enhance efforts to protect human and natural systems by leveraging resources from across the region.
  • Establishing a Model: Collaboration at this scale could set a model across the Pacific Northwest and the country, gaining recognition at various levels.
  • Developing a Shared Vision: The Compact provides an opportunity for the Willamette Valley to come together around a shared sense of risk (economic, climate, etc.) and develop a shared vision of future prosperity for the region, enabling the region to work together towards a common goal. 

Ideas for Increasing Resilience

While the projects, activities and deliverables of the Compact will be defined over time by the steering committee and working groups, below is a sample of potential outputs of this project based on interests and ideas heard to date. We expect that the steering committee will identify areas/projects of interest and working groups will be formed to develop activities. 

  • Food System Resilience: Scale up single county or city initiatives to the Basin scale, such as Lane County’s food security project and a local food initiative in the Metro region. This could include coordination of production, processing, distribution and transport of local foods across the Willamette Valley. Project components may include working with grass-seed farmers to transition to food crops, research on climate tolerant crops, investments in shared processing infrastructure, and region-wide public and business outreach and education campaigns on buying Valley-grown food.
  • Water / Energy Resilience: Research on water storage opportunities for years of significantly reduced snowpack.
  • Community Resilience: Expand upon regional natural hazards planning initiatives, particularly with a focus on flood control and heat. Work closely with emergency managers and public health to develop resilience strategies and response mechanisms at the Valley scale.
  • Energy Resilience: Develop a strategy for Valley-wide expansion of renewable energy development including research, attracting investors, outreach, and education.
  • Ecosystem Resilience: With the assistance of climate models, maintain or restore multiple areas of habitat and large-scale connectivity to facilitate population stability and habitat shifts resulting from land use and climate change.
  • Economic / Infrastructure Resilience: Develop policies that will serve to reduce future risk and economic losses associated with flooding and other events in designated areas through infrastructure improvements, insurance subsidization of high-hazard development, and by directing development and growth to non-vulnerable areas.
  • Prioritize Data Needs: Collectively identify key data gaps and climate modeling needs (e.g. more specific, localized data) for the Willamette River and Willamette Basin that can help to prioritize research for the Willamette Water 2100 project, Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, and the Pacific Northwest Climate Decision Support Center (NOAA funded RISA)
  • Community Resilience: Build from existing climate mitigation and adaptation plans in the Lower and Upper part of the Basin to develop a climate strategy or action plan for the entire region. This plan could include greenhouse gas reduction strategies as well as adaptation/resilience strategies that are more effectively achieved at the regional scale as opposed to within a single jurisdiction.
  • Agricultural / Economic Resilience: Develop agricultural outreach programs for adaptation strategies such as the use of alternative crops, soil management, and enhanced water storage areas.
  • Economic Resilience: Develop a green business plan for the Willamette Valley: identify what types of businesses might be best suited for the Valley, prime locations, infrastructure needs, strategies to attract, etc.
  • Prioritize Data Needs: Develop a project with researchers and universities to conduct floodplain research in support of FEMA’s remapping of the floodplain.
  • Prioritize Data Needs / Water Resilience: Provide insight and influence on the Integrated Water Resource Strategy under development by the Department of Water Resources.
  • Ecosystem Resilience: Scale up efforts by the Model Watershed Program to include ecological restoration and sharing of resources throughout the Basin.
  • Ecosystem Resilience: Coordinate regional invasive exotic species prevention and control efforts emphasizing prevention of new invasions and early detection/rapid response to nascent invasions.
  • Infrastructure Resilience: Work closely with the MPOs and local transportation authorities to develop a strategy for the introduction of high-speed rail in the region. Improve bus lines between communities to provide carless commuting options.

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