This page contains answers to question that are frequently asked about the South Hills Upland Habitat Study.
What is the South Ridgeline Habitat Study?
Eugene’s south ridgeline area contains unique native plant communities and may contain important habitat for rare or sensitive plants or wildlife species. However, there is no accurate, up-to-date information on the status and location of these special areas. In June 2005, the Eugene City Council directed City staff to undertake the South Ridgeline Habitat Study (SRHS) to identify, map and evaluate special habitats along the ridgeline and in the South Hills. A later phase of the Study will evaluate options for protecting special habitats, and the natural, scenic and economic values those areas bring to the community.
What types of habitats will be studied?
The SRHS will address tree, shrub and plant communities that have predominantly native species, including stands of Ponderosa pine, and old-growth Douglas-fir; oak woodlands; oak savanna; natural prairies; and balds (barren or rocky outcrops). The evaluation will also address rare plants, such as the wayside aster, and their habitats, and the habitats of state-designated sensitive animal and bird species known to live within the study area, such as northern red-legged frog and pileated woodpecker.
The study area for the SRHS comprises more than 2,600 acres along the ridgeline and in the South Hills, and includes more than 1,900 parcels including privately-owned and publicly-owned land. The study area includes land both within city limits and outside city limits, within the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). The study also includes city-owned park lands along the ridgeline, and immediately outside the UGB. The area within the SRHS study area was previously mapped as wildlife habitat on the 2003 preliminary Eugene Goal 5 Natural Resources Inventory, but these areas were removed from the inventory during the adoption process by the Eugene City Council in July 2003. While the Goal 5 Inventory adopted in 2003 addresses stream corridors and wetlands, it did not include upland habitats other than stream corridors. The SRHS will map these additional habitats and determine their relative values.
How will the Inventory be conducted?
The Inventory phase of the SRHS will involve identifying, mapping and evaluating the relative quality of different habitat types along the ridgeline and in the South Hills, using both onsite and offsite inventory methods. The City of Eugene is contracting with a consulting firm of professional biologists and botanists to conduct the inventory. Owners of all properties over 0.5 acre will be asked for permission for the consulting biologists to access their property for field studies. Only public lands and those private lands where property owner permission is given will be studied using on-site methods. When the consultants visit a property they will look at the plants growing on the site and any special features that might indicate use by sensitive wildlife species, such as snag trees, woodpecker holes, or nests. Information from all of the individual properties will be compiled into a larger map of native plant and wildlife habitats.
Properties under 0.5 acre will be studied using the off-site methods, due to the very large number of these smaller properties. On these small lots and where on-site access is not granted, the inventory consultant will rely on existing sources of data, such as analysis of color aerial photos, existing maps, views of the property from public lands and rights-of-way, and analysis using the City’s computerized Geographic Information System (GIS). After this preliminary mapping, the Inventory map may be further refined based on additional field information and feedback from property owners. Citizen and property owner input into the Inventory process will be extremely valuable in ensuring the most accurate inventory possible.
How did my property get included in the Study?
The City Council directed staff to include in this study the wildlife habitat areas in the South Hills that had been previously removed from the preliminary Goal 5 Inventory in 2003. Staff has recommended adding a few additional known ridgeline habitat areas, as well as city-owned parkland adjacent to and outside the urban growth boundary. Before the study is adopted there will be an opportunity for public comment through a public hearing process. Whether a property is ultimately included in the adopted habitat inventory will be the subject of a recommendation by the Planning Commission and a final decision by the City Council. To find out if your property is in the study area, and what inventory method would be applied to it, contact Planning Division staff listed at the bottom of this page.
What does the Study mean to property owners?
The first phase of the Study, the Inventory phase, will not result in any recommendations for protection measures, regulations or other conservation programs. The first phase will result in a map of habitat areas and an evaluation of mapped habitat areas. If a special habitat type is mapped on your property, it is possible that the area may later be recommended for protection measures or it may become eligible for non-regulatory conservation incentive programs. These recommendations will be made during Phase II of the Study, scheduled to begin in winter 2006. The SRHS may result in protection recommendations for some habitat areas within the study area, and not others. There are no recommendations yet on any protection measures or on which areas might eventually be protected. During the Inventory phase, property owners can provide valuable information on habitats in their neighborhoods, and help ensure the accuracy of features mapped on their own properties.
Will there be opportunities for me to participate and comment?
Property owner and citizen input will be essential throughout the SRHS process. Some of the information on the location of special habitat types may come from people who live in the study area. Such information will be verified by the consultants before being added to the inventory. In addition, a large number of property owners are being asked for permission to allow the consulting scientists to access their property to collect field data. Ultimately, the entire community will be asked to comment on which habitats should be protected and what protection mechanisms to use. Those who are interested in participating and commenting may do so in several ways:
- Come to a Public Workshop on submitting site-specific inventory information for the SRHS, scheduled for May 7, 2006 at 7:30-8:30 pm .
- Contact staff by e-mail or phone at the addresses below.
- Check our Web site at www.EugeneNR.org to get the latest project updates and info on upcoming meetings.
There will also be future opportunities to comment on proposed alternatives and recommendations for protecting habitats. A second public workshop on the Alternatives Analysis phase of the SRHS will be scheduled in Spring 2007, and there will be Planning Commission and City Council public hearings on the recommendations (later in 2007).
What are the next steps in the Study?
There are two phases to the South Ridgeline Habitat Study: The Inventory phase, and the Alternatives Analysis phase. The inventory phase of the project is expected to start in May of 2006, and to be completed by October 2006. The second phase of the project, the alternatives analysis and recommendations phase, will include potential conservation strategies. There will be an additional public workshop and opportunities for public input on these recommendations. There will be a public hearing on the draft recommendations with the Eugene Planning Commission. In the second phase, Planning Commission recommendations will be forwarded to the Eugene City Council. Depending on the types of recommendations adopted by the City Council, the Study may result in new regulations or non-regulatory conservation incentive programs or other initiatives to protect key habitat areas along the ridgeline and in the South Hills.