Category Archives: Land Use

Karnopp Petersen Attorneys to Speak on Emerging Land Issues in Indian Country

Ellen Grover

Ellen H. Grover

Howard G. Arnett

Howard G. Arnett

On Friday, October 25, two KP lawyers are set to speak at the Oregon State Bar Indian Law Section’s CLE on Emerging Land Issues in Indian Country taking place at the University of Oregon School of Law.

Ellen H. Grover will provide insight into the impacts of climate change in Indian Country and Howard G. Arnett will focus on emerging tribal land uses related to the outdoor recreation industry.

The CLE agenda includes panel discussions dealing with natural resource development, climate change, timber cases, treaty rights, and the native outdoor recreation industry. View more information about the event and the full schedule here.


How City Council Addressed OSU Cascades Campus Application

On October 15, 2014 the City Council issued its decision upholding approval of OSU-Cascade’s 10 acre site plan application for its proposed campus expansion. The Council’s decision addressed three different issues—master planning, parking and traffic—that directly relate to off-site impacts of the development that appeared to be of highest concern to area residents. While the City Council ultimately upheld the approval which enables OSU-Cascades to move forward with the 10 acre site, it did also thoughtfully consider the nature of its code requirements, resident concerns and OSU-Cascade’s efforts and suggestions and crafted conditions of approval to address potential impacts of the site in the area. Recognizing that all development has impacts and that its role in managing developer decisions and goals is limited, the City cannot eliminate all impacts, but the Council did work to identify some safeguards to reduce or mitigate potential impacts. Below is a brief summary of the issues and resolution.

1. Master Plan. The issue before the City Council was whether the University was required to “master plan” the 10 acre site with an adjacent 45 acre site not owned by the University but about which the University engaged the community in a phased development visioning exercise. The City Council’s decision does impose a master planning requirement on the University, but only at the time when doing so is required by the code and is otherwise ripe for such a review. Under the decision, the University may move forward with the 10 acre site, but a condition of approval requires master planning if they expand onto the adjacent site. Accordingly, the full site build out, if there is one at the expanded site, will be evaluated comprehensively under master planning/planned district provisions.

By way of background, opponents stated their belief that good planning dictates that the University be required to master plan their entire campus build out, namely the current 10 acre property and the adjacent 45 acre property. The University owns an option to acquire the 45 acre site, has developed conceptual development plans and sought public engagement. Opponents do not cite any specific issues that might be better addressed through the specific master planning provisions in the City Code, but simply note that the scale of the 56 acre full build out—not necessarily the 10 acre property development standing alone—requires master planning review.

The City Council’s decision disagreed that the 56 acres needed to, or could, be master planned at this time. First, the City Council clarified that master planning is not theoretical, but binding—meaning it results in new land use regulations for the property and would amend the General Plan and Development Code map. Next, the City Council pointed out that to impose such binding regulations as a result of a “quasi-judicial” proceeding—a proceeding that affects a discrete site, will result in a decision of some kind and must comply with existing criteria—must be initiated or consented to by the property owner and could not be imposed at a third party’s request. (This is in contrast to a legislative action whereby, for example, the City itself initiates a review of its zoning districts which may or may not result in changes to those zoning districts.) Last, the City Council noted that, even if it could impose master planning on adjacent property without property owner consent, it would be a dangerous precedent to in fact require it. The result would be a city-wide mandate that every application address adjacent vacant land in their proposals, whether they own it or not. This likely would not result in ordered planning, but seemingly just the opposite as it would prevent appropriate planning of parcels based on the objection of adjacent land owners or otherwise result in property owners later seeking to reverse zoning regulations that were imposed without their consent or request.

The City Council generally agreed that master planning the entire build out may in fact be preferable, but noted that such planning simply is not yet ripe. Namely, the University did not own the 45 acre property and the current owner did not consent to any city planning changes to the property. Further, the University, while expressly identifying its desire to expand onto the 45 acre property—including extensive public outreach and visioning concepts—has not determined whether it can or whether it is the most desirable option to expand on that site because it needs to complete its due diligence of the 45 acre property and other potential development opportunities. In the meantime, the University identified nearer term needs for the 10 acre site. The City Council noted that it simply could not mandate that the University change its expansion needs, due diligence reviews, and timing for the simple fact of requiring master planning.

The City Council reconciled its code requirements with its general agreement that master planning may be beneficial by requiring, as a condition of approval, that if the University were to in fact purchase the 45 acre property, it must enter into master planning or special planned district process as consistent with the code requirements prior any development on the site. Incidentally, if this were to be the case, it would seem beneficial that the public outreach being conducted by the University would inform the master planning process and application. In any event, under the Council’s decision, the full build out will be reviewed comprehensively under master planning/planned district provisions if and when the University opts to expand onto the adjacent site and has ostensibly completed its public outreach for that site.

2. Parking. The issue before the Council was whether the University was providing sufficient on-site parking for the 10 acre development, thereby minimizing or reducing potential on-street and off-site parking impacts to the surrounding neighborhoods. The City Council found that the University’s application met the “parking needs” of the campus based on the University’s professionally prepared Parking Management Plan (“PMP”). In light of the ongoing concern about potential off-site parking impacts, the City Council also imposed, at OSU-Cascade’s suggestion, implementation and monitoring conditions related to the PMP. The purpose of these conditions is to prevent impacts to the neighborhood that are uncertain to occur but could otherwise be addressed by additional on-site parking or other methods in the PMP. They require strict implementation and enforcement of the PMP and, on top of that, neighborhood monitoring to specific thresholds that trigger responses and that could eventually require additional on-site parking to be provided.

By way of background, opponents here argued that the University’s application did not meet the “parking needs” requirement of the proposed school, claiming that—while the standard clearly bases compliance on a Parking Management Plan for all uses contemplated for the entire campus—the PMP prepared by the University is too optimistic in terms of evaluating parking demand reduction and is not otherwise credible in light of evidence that opponents provided.

The site plan shows 322 parking spaces on-site as consistent with (and exceeds that required by) the PMP which was prepared by a professional traffic engineering firm, Kittelson and Associates. The PMP also establishes express parking management goals, objectives and policies that encourage reduction in single occupancy vehicles and reliance on alternative modes of transportation such as transit, walking and biking. The Plan prohibits long term overnight parking on campus, discourages on-street parking, rewards carpooling and provides easy access to facilities for other forms of commuting, such as biking, walking or taking a shuttle. A parking permit program will be used to monitor and control parking on-site, and the PMP adopts a “good neighbor” policy whereby the University will respond to calls from neighbors to investigate the potential for misuse of private parking by a campus user as well as an inclement weather program to address commuting during times of wintery weather. A no tolerance policy will implement consequences for individuals who violate the campus parking policies. The PMP will be actively monitored by University staff and incentives and parking policies will be adjusted based on performance. In addition, additional parking facilities may also be required under the PMP based on this monitoring.

The City Council disagreed with the opponents assertion that the PMP did not meet the parking needs, noting that a) the PMP was prepared by a professional traffic engineering firm; b) the PMP was consistent with the City code and policies emphasizing reduction in vehicle trips; c) the hearings officer clearly reviewed and rejected contrary evidence provided by opponents; and d) the University’s PMP was based on four separate methods for calculating parking need which validate the end result as well as on a discount of success factors related to parking demand reduction, not the opposite—meaning, there was not persuasive evidence that the PMP was overly optimistic or based on unsubstantiated methods. The City Council found that the University met its burden of proof that it met the parking needs of its entire use even when taking into account contrary evidence.

Even though the City Council found that the University met the necessary parking need criterion, it imposed two conditions of approval related to the PMP to monitor neighborhood impacts. These conditions require the University to implement the PMP including the adaptive management provisions in it as well as to specifically monitor on-street parking and at certain thresholds undertake a set of responses based on a cascading level of impact which could culminate in submitting a revised PMP for review (subject to public comment and hearing) and a requirement for construction of additional parking facilities. The conditions were suggested and agreed to by OSU Cascades in light of public concern related to potential off-site parking impacts. In other words, while the parking solutions in the PMP met the burden of proof to establish compliance with the code, the ongoing implementation of the PMP will be subject to review so as to prevent impacts to the neighborhood that are uncertain to occur but could otherwise be addressed by additional on-site parking or other methods in the PMP.

3. Transportation System/Traffic. The issue before the Council was whether the University sufficiently considered the traffic impacts of the 10 acre development, in particular whether the University can demonstrate that the transportation system has adequate capacity in light of the intersections studied, the time of year studied and the evidence of congestion related to existing school traffic. The City Council determined that the studies provided by the University showed that the transportation system has sufficient capacity. In particular, it found that the traffic studies provided met the City’s requirements and were representative of peak usage for the University and nearby school uses. The Council however also recognized that the system sustains short periods of high use around school start and release times and/or other events. In order to balance school congestion on Mt. Washington and Reed Market, the Council imposed a condition of approval on the University to proactively work with nearby schools to understand programming and events to try and avoid overwhelming the system based on simultaneously scheduled events.

By way of further discussion, opponents arguments focused on three issues of significant concern for many residents: a) that the University did not study the capacity of all appropriate intersections—particularly Reed Market road; b) that the traffic counts that were taken should be adjusted upward to account for the peak season; and c) that there is significant traffic congestion on area streets, particularly associated with existing schools near or adjacent to Mt. Washington. Taken together, opponents asserted that there are significant traffic issues within the transportation system and that the transportation facilities did not have adequate capacity to accommodate additional use that would be required by the University campus.

The City Council instead found that the University did not limit its review of intersections but met the requirement to study all required intersections. Those requirements did not involve Reed Market road. It also found that the traffic counts did not warrant any seasonal adjustments because the traffic counts were taken at a time representative of when the University site would be operating and when other school uses are operating that create known demands on the road system—i.e., in November during the school session. This study also included a supplemental study during the p.m. peak time for school release. The Council declined to adjust trip counts to the peak summer season as suggested by the opponents because the University site will not be operating at peak capacity during that time. However, the Council also recognized that the system sustains short periods of high use around school start and release times and/or other events. In order to balance school congestion, the Council imposed a condition of approval on the University to proactively work with nearby schools to understand programming and events to try and avoid overwhelming the system based on simultaneously scheduled events. Notably, this condition relates to trying to balance school congestion at not only Mt Washington but also Reed Market Road to try and address concerns there even though there is no code requirement to do so.

Bend’s Urban Growth Boundary – What does it mean?

Oregon’s comprehensive land use policy is based, in large part, on the overall premise of protecting resource lands, such as agricultural and forest lands, from conversion to non-resource uses, such as residential or commercial uses.  One factor in this policy is the promotion of orderly and efficient urban development within formally designated urban areas, or urban growth boundaries (“UGB”).  These UGBs are intended to supply adequate land for urban development over a 20 year time period.

In 2009, the City sought to expand its current boundary to meet demonstrated residential and employment land needs. That effort resulted in a partial “remand”, or “re-do” of the City’s decision from the state Land Conservation and Development Commission (“LCDC”).  In particular, LCDC directed the City to re-evaluate how it considered which directions to grow and whether certain uses could in fact be accommodated within the existing UGB, among other considerations.

State-mandated policies directing land priorities and infill development are major factors underlying the City’s need to re-do its expanded boundary.   For example, Juniper Ridge was identified for inclusion into the UGB, in part, based on an identified need for a four year university.  However, the State specifically rejected this inclusion on the basis that the City had not adequately explained why a university could not be accommodated within the existing UGB.  And indeed, with OSU-Cascades’ selection of a four year university site(s) within the UGB, the merits of additional land outside the existing UGB for university use have proven to be inaccurate.  Similarly, the City selected for expansion land to the east of town in a lower land priority category in part based on certain “suitability” factors.  The State rejected many of those factors and has directed the City to more closely follow strict state mandated priority categories in its boundary analysis.

The State’s remand order, while it places certain prescriptive limitations, does not mean that Bend residents do not have a say in the expansion process or outcome.  In fact, this week kicked off the City’s public involvement process that will accelerate the City’s UGB expansion process.  While, legally, the City has until June, 2017, to adopt a new expanded boundary, the City Council decided to complete its UGB adoption by April of 2016 to help alleviate land need pressures and resulting escalation of prices being felt currently in the City.  No small feat.  Indeed, the City has already been at this for a decade, having started the UGB process initially in 2004.

The City has some fair amount of discretion in how it weighs certain factors.  For example, community desires surrounding traffic facilities, transit, natural resource amenities, service centers, affordable housing, and sustainability can all factor into how the City will weigh different boundary scenarios.  Importantly, however, these desires have to pertain to specific housing and employment needs, the efficient accommodation of identified land needs, the orderly provision of public facilities and services, a comparison of environmental, energy, economic and social consequences, and compatibility with nearby agricultural and forest activities.  The City is seeking broad public feedback with an interactive survey tool on its website. In addition, the City has convened citizen technical advisory committees  to advise on certain elements of the remand order and the City’s process. This outreach will be important for the City in establishing a strong foundation, and factual record, on which to base its ultimate choices within the overarching state-mandated urban expansion policies.

Bend Metro Parks System is an Important Asset to Bend’s Tourism Economy

Recently, the City Club of Central Oregon hosted a forum on what’s next for Central Oregon’s Recreation and Tourism Assets.  The discussion included a well informed panel about the role that recreation plays in Central Oregon’s tourism economy with a focus on Bend being a main tourism driver for the region.  According to VisitBend, 2.2 million people visit Bend annually (which is likely a higher number if you consider the region), there are 8,840 jobs in central Oregon because of tourism, and the annual tourist spending is $526 million.   An important role, indeed.

While there are distinct tourism assets, such as the Bend Ale Trail, golf courses, arts and entertainment events and venues, among others, the panel tended to be more focused on the recreation assets in the context of having access to nearby public land.  In particular, there was significant discussion surrounding the impact of Bend’s growth on the quality of the recreational experience on nearby public lands.

Bend is growing as a city and will continue to grow, including an expanded four year university.  As Bend grows, a vibrant trail and recreational system in the metro area will remain of vital importance.  Accordingly, the cornerstone of Bend’s recreational access and quality could be the assets developed and managed by the Bend Metro Parks and Recreation District. The District manages 2,659 acres of land—1,531 acres of which are developed—manages 65 miles of trail, much of it along the scenic Deschutes River, and is currently implementing a $29 million bond measure to expand the community’s recreational amenities. This bond measure will fund numerous Deschutes River Trail connections and parks, including a whitewater park.  The intended result is to allow for a fully connected trail from Sunriver to Tumalo State Park.  Visitors and residents of Bend are and will be able to efficiently access these trails and parks and enjoy quality experiences without having to access public lands to receive the high quality recreational experiences.  In addition, numerous events are accommodated through the metro parks system, which directly attract tourism dollars.

For trail systems located close in to town, such as Phil’s trail, where users value efficient access and quality trails, additional trail development within the system and on nearby public and private lands and directional improvements will help maintain quality user experiences as demand increases.  However, particularly for these closer in trail systems, having a robust and beautiful metro trail system will be critical for addressing increased demand. For some users, the metro system can provide the same level of recreational amenity and thus reduce or mitigate increased demand on the public land trail system.

There is no doubt that many people will desire wilderness type experiences on the public lands.  However, backcountry activities are typically only accessed by a much smaller number of visitors with the skills, desire and equipment to enjoy backcountry hiking, skiing, fishing, climbing or whitewater kayaking, among others.  Nevertheless, additional amenities are in the process or planned for development on the national forest lands, including new trails, snow parks, a Cascades Mountain hut route and additional trails and amenities at the Mt. Bachelor ski resort.  Fundamentally, however, the ability of the federal forests to accommodate increased levels of activity will be limited to ensure the protection of wildlife and habitat—for example, federal permits for events such as running and bike races contain participant caps. While a metro system is not designed to deliver wilderness type experiences, it is designed to provide access to recreational activities that may, initially, be out of reach for residents or visitors in the backcountry.  Indeed, recreational access is a significant concern, particularly for lower income visitors and residents. Accordingly, the metro park system fills a recreational need that cannot be met by the public lands and also provides opportunity to lower barriers to access, by offering nearby amenities and training in a diverse set of recreational skills.  In addition, the metro park system appears likely to continue to be developed in a manner that helps to accommodate race event venues thereby helping to mitigate some demand on the public trail systems.

Last, climate change may directly impact the recreational amenities available on nearby public lands.  Adaptability and resiliency are important concepts for adjusting to the impacts of climate change.  A robust metro trail system may very likely be a critical asset that will provide resiliency to our region’s recreational assets.

In summary, Bend’s tourism economy is intimately tied to high quality, trail and outdoor oriented recreational amenities.  Focus can often be concentrated on the recreational system located on public lands as the driving force behind Bend’s recreation tourism economy.  While there is no doubt the public land amenities, including a developed ski resort, offer world class recreation, it is important to consider how critical the Bend Metro Parks and Recreation District’s trail and recreation system is to providing access to outdoor recreation, to meeting recreation demand, and to supporting the quality of recreational assets in the region.

Land Use Considerations Related to OSU-Cascades Campus Expansion Site

OSU-Cascades is planning to expand its programming to a four year degree university and is seeking to develop an integrated campus on vacant land on the west side of Bend.  The site selection has garnered both support and concern from west Bend residents.  The university is pursuing the location, stating that the location is both developable within its limited budget (including land value and infrastructure improvement costs) and is near necessary amenities to attract high caliber students. Currently, the university has a 10 acre site plan pending before the city of Bend under Oregon’s land use laws and plans future applications to address the full campus build out, hopefully on an adjacent 46 acre property.  Oregon’s land use system can be complicated, yet it is intimately related to some of the concerns raised about the site selection and potential development impacts.

  1. The Site is inside Bend’s Urban Growth Boundary.  Cities are designated as urban areas—on purpose under Oregon land use laws, which are intended to prevent sprawl and protect resource lands.  If the university were to select a location outside of the urban growth boundary (UGB), urban levels of amenities would be prohibited from growing out to support it, unless the UGB is later expanded to include the campus.  However, UGB expansions are undertaken under very restrictive statewide standards, and such a result is highly speculative.
  2. The Site is Developable Land within the UGB.  The university’s current site is developable land within the urban growth boundary which mandates certain densities. The city of Bend is undertaking a UGB expansion process that was originally turned down by the State, in part, because the City could not justify the number of acres it desired to take in.  In other words, the City will be required to implement policies that ensure development densities that justify its UGB expansion area.  In summary, in light of the policy requiring infill development to meet these density requirements, it is unlikely that a vacant site inside the UGB will remain so.
  3.  The Land Use Process is About Identifying and Addressing Development Standards.  Understanding that the site a) is in an urban area and b) is unlikely to remain vacant, the issue then becomes what development impacts are allowed under Oregon land use laws.  All development has impacts.  Whether the site is developed as a shopping center (which has been under consideration) or a university campus, the Oregon land use system is designed to mandate certain development standards that require the developer to identify potential impacts, and find ways to avoid, reduce or mitigate them to meet the standards. Importantly, the land use system is “standards based,” and the process will only consider the subject of the application. In other words, if the developer can meet the standards, the City will have no basis to deny the application.  Of high relevance to the site selection, such standards include meeting traffic safety standards, including those very expensive ones imposed by ODOT at the Juniper Ridge site, thereby taking Juniper Ridge out of consideration.  In contrast, the City is currently considering and will make a decision on only the 10 acre proposal at the west Bend site, which does not appear to require the same magnitude of traffic infrastructure costs.
  4. The University is Proposing a Phased Development Process, but the Full Build Out Impact will be Addressed.  As noted above, the City will not at this time consider all of the impacts of a full 56 acre build out of the area, because the university is only currently applying for a 10 acre build out and because the university is still undertaking due diligence on the remaining 46 acres for development.  Concerns about the full build out of the campus will be studied and made part of the university’s future land use application(s).  The future phase(s) will include the same open land use process and will be designed to apply the development standards to the land use application(s).  Importantly, the City’s consideration of development impacts is cumulative—meaning, with the future application(s), the City will consider impacts on top of then-existing impacts of the 10 acre phase, so that the full development impact will be considered.
  5. OSU Cascades Public Process Exceeds that Required by Oregon Land Use Laws.  Of note, OSU Cascades has voluntarily opened up a community advisory committee process and a regional collaboration effort to collect and share information to help it plan for the future development phase(s) and achieve desired community and university outcomes.  This advisory committee and collaboration process is not required under Oregon land use law and is not a common practice for private developers.
  6. Food For Thought: Consider Development Characteristics.  While the City may be prohibited from denying an application that meets the standards, it can impose conditions that are reasonably necessary for ensuring compliance with a particular standard.  The nature of the conditions will be directly related to the characteristics of the proposed use.  OSU Cascades may provide some unique opportunities for managing development impacts that other developers may lack.  For example, OSU can control its enrollment; it can control when courses are offered to help manage traffic; and it can plan for student transit, living and life arrangements to reduce traffic trips and off campus impacts.  In contrast, a shopping center would not have these tools to mitigate impacts.
  7. You Can Get Involved, But Collaborative Input is Most Effective.  The Oregon land use process is open to public participation.  And, as noted above, OSU Cascades has voluntarily initiated a citizen advisory process related to the campus expansion and a regional collaboration effort to address expansion issues and more.  Anyone can get involved; however, involvement is most constructive and effective if it focuses on becoming informed and on being open to offering solutions where some can be had.  There are many examples, including the southern crossing bridge, where constructive and collaborative public participation shaped a result that improved the outcome and satisfied numerous interests.

Forest Owner Opportunities in California’s Cap and Trade Program

In 2006, California passed Assembly Bill (AB) 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, directing the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to develop a program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020 in California.  ARB developed its Cap and Trade Program, and 2013 saw the start of mandatory compliance obligations.  In general, the program sets emission caps which reduce over time and which trigger emission compliance obligations.  To comply with the program, covered entities such as electric utilities or fuel refineries must acquire either emission allowances (“Allowances”), issued by the ARB, or carbon emission offset credits (“Carbon Offsets Credits” or “COC”) from COC project owners/developers (collectively, “Compliance Instruments”) and then surrender these Compliance Instruments to the ARB for their covered emissions.

The Carbon Offset Credit component of the program creates opportunities for forest owners in the lower 48 states to participate and receive revenue for being a COC provider.  As part of the Compliance Offset Program, the ARB has adopted four Compliance Offset Protocols under which projects can be developed, implemented and verified for issuance and sale of Carbon Offset Credits:  Ozone Depleting Substances Projects Protocol, Livestock Projects Protocol, Urban Forest Projects Protocol, and US Forest Projects Protocol (the “Forest Protocol”).

The COC creation market has the potential to be significant.  Unlike voluntary carbon credit markets, California Carbon Offset Credit prices are responsive to regulatory floors and requirements—namely, the ARB sets a price floor for the Allowance auctions which helps to support COC prices.  COC prices are discounted to the Allowance price because Carbon Offset Credits may comprise only 8 percent of a covered entity’s compliance obligation.   For example, the 2014 floor price for an Allowance is set at $11.34, and the 2014 Allowance budget is 159.7 million Allowances—meaning there is an opportunity in 2014 to market approximately 13 million offset credits at prices that could range from $8-10 per offset (or higher if the allowances trade higher than the floor price).  This annual market opportunity grows in later years due to additional covered entities entering the regulatory program (for example, the Allowance budget jumps to 394 million Allowances in 2015).  Further, there is flexibility in the market as Carbon Offset Credits may be banked for future year compliance obligations.

Eligibility of forest lands for the Forest Protocol depends on the project type.  The Forest Protocol identifies three different project types: 1) Reforestation; 2) Improved Forest Management; and 3) Avoided Conversion.

  • Avoided Conversion projects may only occur on privately owned (including tribal) land, unless the land is transferred to public ownership as part of the project.  Lands are only eligible if it can be demonstrated that there is a significant threat of conversion of project land to non-forest land use.
  • Reforestation projects are limited to lands that have had less than 10 percent tree canopy cover for a minimum of 10 years or have been subject to a Significant Disturbance removing at least 20 percent of the land’s above ground live biomass in trees.  The projects may occur on private land, tribal land or on state or municipal public land.
  • Similarly, Improved Forest Management projects may occur on private, tribal or state/municipal lands.  These projects involve management activities that maintain or increase carbon stocks on forested land relative to baseline levels of carbon stocks.  To be eligible, these lands must contain more than 10 percent tree canopy cover.

Notably, federal lands, except for tribal lands, are not eligible for any of the projects.  The exclusion of federal lands creates a significant opportunity for private and tribal forest owners to participate in the carbon market and create additional asset value.  The Carbon Offset Credits create opportunity for an annual revenue stream. And, importantly, some of the Forest Protocol projects are not incompatible with ongoing timber management objectives, but may, in fact, help generate revenues that can assist in overall forest health and timber management objectives such as through thinning projects and/or biomass removal.  The Carbon Offset Credit revenues could also be rolled into other management objectives, for example, forest land acquisition.  However, there is a cost to entry and ongoing management costs for reporting and verification which should be factored into any project projection.

Any forest owner interested in the program should contact a reputable professional to assist them in a feasibility review of the Forest Protocol and the forest owner’s lands, forest composition and management practices and objectives.  This would evaluate potential size of project, credit generation and revenue and cost projections.  For example, under the Improved Forest Management protocol, project sizes under 5,000 acres may not make financial sense standing alone, but could perhaps be aggregated with other land holdings.  In addition, invalidation and other legal risks should be evaluated.

In summary, the California Cap and Trade Program is large enough and valuable enough to entice interest in forest carbon offset project development on private and tribal lands.  These offset projects can create additional value for forest owners, but only if they are consistent with existing overall management objectives. While the market is regulated, it is also still emerging.  Accordingly, it is important to evaluate the risks as well as the opportunities before committing to a project.