The Land of Trees, Cheese, the Ocean Breeze, and Natural Hazards

By Ethan Lockwood

Tillamook County may be best known for its trees, cheese, and ocean breeze–but it also home to significant natural hazards. The county’s stunningly beautiful coastline has long attracted housing and development that takes advantage of the gorgeous views, remote settings, and remarkable topography. Yet, natural hazards are also an inescapable reality of the Oregon coast.

Landslides, coastal erosion, tsunamis, and dune migration pose serious risk to coastal development. The county has a long history of natural hazard events, coastal erosion and landslides in particular, that have caused significant damage to infrastructure and property while posing a safety risk to residents. Mitigating the risk of natural hazards to new development is a current priority of the county. To help achieve this, graduate students in the Community Planning Workshop are developing a toolbox of regulatory and non-regulatory natural hazard mitigation approaches for the county.

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Development codes are a tool used by communities and counties to regulate where what type of development can occur. Diverse and ongoing natural hazard planning has occurred throughout the county detailing the severity and location of natural hazard risk, but stronger incorporation of this information into the County Development Code is needed to best protect future development. From geological site reports and safest building site selection to dune vegetation protection to prevent erosion, a diversity of regulations and tools are under consideration.

Through the creation of development code case studies and research on best practices, this graduate student team lead by Michael Howard, Assistant Program Director of the Community Service Center, will help to ensure that the trees, cheese, and ocean breeze of Tillamook County can be safely enjoyed for years to come.

This project is funded through a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant. The University of Oregon’s Community Service Center’s (CSC) Oregon Partnership for Disaster Resilience (OPDR) was invited by FEMA to become a Cooperating Technical Partner under the FEMA Risk MAP program. This project is occurring with cooperation and consultation with Tillamook County staff, Planning Commission, and the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).


Ethan Lockwood is pursuing a masters in Community and Regional Planning at the University of Oregon. While not studying open space, parks, and land preservation he can be found on the local singletrack trails hiking, running, and skiing as much as grad school allows.

Be Prepared

By Ali Lau

Just like every community, Institutes of Higher Education (IHEs) are at risk from emergency events, both natural and manmade. A team of graduate students in the Community Planning Workshop class hope to learn exactly how much variation exists. The goal for this team of students, led by Project Manager Rory Isbell, is to gain a comprehensive view of emergency management at all IHEs in this country. The final report will be include a strategic action plan with recommendations to make emergency management better and more efficient.

What counts as an IHE? This category includes every possible type of higher education institution, not just four-year colleges and universities (both public and private). IHEs also include technical colleges, professional schools, and two-year community colleges. This project seeks to study as many schools as possible in order to better understand how emergency management can be improved for all types of IHEs.


What counts as an emergency? Schools have different definitions and ways to cope with emergencies. Emergencies range from natural hazards, like earthquakes or tsunamis, to crimes, such as assault or arson. Additionally, some schools have many campuses across the country or even the globe. How do these schools manage emergencies on an international scale?

Overall, schools need to be prepared for anything. According to John Tommaney, Director of Emergency Management for Boston College, “there are things that you just can’t anticipate, like the Boston marathon bombing, our challenge is to be as prepared as possible for any situation.”

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to emergency management; each IHE has a different approach. Some schools have an entire department dedicated to emergency management, while others rely on their campus police or public safety departments to cover emergencies.

This project is a joint effort between the National Center for Campus Safety (NCCPS), the Disaster Resilient Universities (DRU) Network, and the International Association of Emergency Management (IAEM) Universities and Colleges Caucus (UCC). The Community Service Center is happy to have strong, national partners who are are dedicated to improving the lives of others through emergency management.

AlexandAli Laura Lau is working on her Master of Community and Regional Planning and Master of Architecture degrees at the University of Oregon. Her academic studies revolve around improving design standards for buildings to create more sustainable cities.