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Engaging landowners and managers of Oregon natural and working lands
June 06, 2024

The State of Oregon is a national leader in reducing climate emissions. State policies are in place requiring 100% of all cars and 75% of all trucks to be electric by 2035, 100% clean electricity by 2040, and emissions from industrial and fossil gas sources to be cut by 90% by 2050. However, until 2023, similar state policies related to natural and working lands were lacking. And yet climate-amplified extreme weather is putting farms, forests and rural communities at risk. Increasing sequestration on farm, ranch and forest lands, as well as in estuaries and other natural areas, is necessary in order to meet climate protection goals.

Unprecedented federal funding and new state policies and incentives position Oregon to be a leader in advancing climate resilience and carbon sequestration on natural and working lands. This grant will enable a coalition of Oregon non-profit organizations to optimize these opportunities by engaging landowners and partners in both shaping new programs and realizing their benefits through robust public engagement and promotion of these opportunities to land owners and managers, and the first ever in-person statewide convening to advance climate mitigation and resilience on Oregon’s farms and ranches.

This project will catalyze community resilience strategies and landowner engagement in accessing and deploying federal and state funding incentives. It will advance evidence-based approaches to increasing carbon sequestration and resilience to extreme weather (e.g., cover crop planting, longer logging rotations and wetland restoration). It will also ensure that landowner and stakeholder input shape Oregon’s new Natural and Working Lands Fund, which provides financial and technical support for natural climate solutions.

Oregon farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners, who are on the frontlines of climate-fueled extreme weather, need more support to access new tools and resources available to support climate resilience and mitigation. Providing landowners and land managers access to funding, technical assistance, and other resources they need to implement natural climate solutions will build public will and capacity for carbon sequestration and resilience to extreme weather events.

Primary project partners Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) and the Oregon Climate Agriculture Network (OrCAN) also collaborate with other members of the Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) Coalition, including Oregon Wild, the Coalition for Oregon Land Trusts, Sustainable Northwest, The Nature Conservancy, Pew Research Center, American Farmland Trust, and the Oregon Association of Conservation Districts.

After the listening sessions and jump-started by the conference, a broad communications campaign (conferences, webinars, toolkits) will share with landowners and managers the benefits of implementing climate-smart land management practices and how to access funding to support near-term on-the-ground changes in land management. To ensure a just and equitable distribution of resources, the project will focus efforts on small woodland owners and small-scale and BIPOC farmers and ranchers who are often left out of policy and funding opportunities and need additional assistance to participate.

By accelerating carbon sequestration efforts, this project will support Oregon in achieving its goals while increasing community resilience to climate extremes through important co-benefits (e.g., improved water infiltration and holding capacity, increased resistance to diseases and pests, and reduced wildfire risk). The CO2 Foundation is enthusiastic about the potential of community conversations and deep partnerships with service providers, paired with new resources and the commitment to equitable engagement, to jump-start Oregon’s leadership on climate solutions on natural and working lands.