The 2015 Oregon Natural Areas Plan lists the rare species, ecosystems, and geological features present in Oregon and where they are represented by protected lands.
In preparation for the 2015 Plan update, a geodatabase of Oregon's Natural Areas was produced. This spatial layer contains all registered and dedicated sites and those natural areas included in the Oregon Natural Areas Plan as conserving rare species, habitats, or geological features. If you find errors or omissions in this geodatabase please contact inrpdxweb[at]pdx.edu with updated information.
The Oregon Legislature established the Oregon Natural Areas Program in 1979 as a way to protect high quality native ecosystems and rare plant and animal species. The program is managed by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and is guided by the Natural Heritage Advisory Council. In 2010, the Council adopted the Oregon Natural Areas Plan, a report that defines the full range of Oregon's natural heritage and guides the selection of priority areas for the establishment of natural areas. INR's Oregon Biodiversity Information Center (ORBIC) helped develop the Oregon Natural Areas Plan and assists the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department by maintaining natural areas records, providing scientific advice and coodinating with regional and national natural areas programs. ORBIC has a long history working with the Natural Areas Program and has helped guide it since 1979, when ORBIC was called the Oregon Natural Heritage Program.
The goals of the Oregon Natural Areas Program are to:
The Oregon Natural Areas program collaborates with regional and national natural areas programs, including an interagency Natural Areas Committee, that is overseen by the U.S. Forest Service. This committee meets twice a year, and has representatives from the federal land management agencies, state agencies, The Nature Conservancy, and others interested in Natural Areas. The Natural Areas Association helps coordinate efforts throughout the U.S. and the world, and promotes information exchange regarding the management and establishment of natural areas.
Dedicated natural areas in Oregon are called Natural Heritage Conservation Areas. For an area to be dedicated, it must first be registered, and must also have a management plan describing how the key biological resources will be managed. Natural Heritage Conservation Areas are similar to federal Research Natural Areas in that they are designed to serve educators, researchers, resource managers and the general public with access to Oregon's natural heritage resources far into the future. INR's Oregon Biodoversity Information Center assists state agencies in identifying candidate sites for dedication.
Eight sites are currently dedicated:
Cape Blanco Cape Meares
Cascade Head Netarts Spit
Onion Peak Saddle Mountain
Steens Summit Winchuck Slope
Additional information on these sites is available from ORBIC.
The Oregon Register lists Oregon's most important sites with significant natural heritage resources. Sites on the list are primarily on state lands, but also includes voluntarily listed sites on private or municipal lands, and a few federally owned sites that were registered before they were acquired by the government. The Council recommends candidates for registration to the State Land Board for approval. There are 100 natural areas currently registered. For the names and owners of the sites listed on the register, see below. Additional information on these sites, including a basic registry form, is available from ORBIC.
Status as of June 30, 2015
Sites currently on the Register:
(owner in parenthesis followed by the year the site was added to the register)
Research Natural Areas (RNA) are federal lands managed for research and education purposes. The majority of designated natural areas in Oregon are part of the federal Research Natural Areas program.
The RNA program was created to:
In the Pacific Northwest, the DoD Army Corps of Engineers, USDA Forest Service, USDI National Park Service, USDI Bureau of Land Management, USDI Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Department of Energy all participate in the program. The U.S. Forest Service has provided a regional RNA coordinator to help manage the Pacific Northwest Interagency Natural Areas Network and RNA committee. This committee meets biannually to promote the program and coordination on the establishment and management of these areas.
In addition to RNAs, the Bureau of Land Management has established many sites that have significant natural area values as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern. These sites are recognized along with RNAs, State Natural Heritage Conservation Areas, and Marine Reserves as critical components of the natural area network. RNAs and ACECs are included in the 2010 map and listing of natural areas of Oregon (from 2010 Natural Areas Plan).