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.

Meet our alumni, Jack Heide


Meet our alumni:

Jack Heide — Resiliency Manager, Sustainable Jersey

What Community Service Center program(s) did you work with?

Community Planning Workshop (CPW)

Oregon Partnership for Disaster Resilience (OPDR)

What year(s) were you affiliated with the Community Service Center (CSC)?
20011 – 2013

What do you do in your current job/position?

I serve as a Resiliency Manager with the Sustainable Jersey Resilience Program. In this capacity, I work with Superstorm Sandy-affected communities across South Jersey connecting municipal leaders with long-term recovery and resiliency planning resources and technical assistance. In addition, I have been working as part of team creating a Coastal Vulnerability Assessment (CVA) targeted for New Jersey municipalities and piloting the CVA through facilitation in 30 New Jersey towns. The CVA is community asset based vulnerability that measures the vulnerability of community assets against projected sea level rise at 2030, 2050, and 2100 and CAT 1 Hurricane events on the same time horizons. Finally the CVA takes the vulnerabilities of each asset and considers them against the risk to the entire community. I’m working on several multi-stakeholder grant programs (through NOAA and NFWF) providing assistance to New Jersey municipalities to provide ecological-based approaches to hazard mitigation. The ecological solutions focus on green infrastructure and living shoreline practices.

Tell us about an unforgettable day in your current job…

I spent a day (8 hours) touring Greenwich, NJ with citizens of the town as they showed me areas of the town still not recovered from Superstorm Sandy, which occurred in 2012. In addition, my guides took me to explore the vast marshlands which contain an intricate system of dikes, levees, culverts, and pumps that help protect the town from future storm events and flooding. The greatest part of the day was the fact that they invited me to bring my dog, who helped explore the complexity and marshlands in this historic town along the Delaware Bays Shore.

What professional organizations do you belong to?

American Planning Association

Natural Hazards Mitigation Association

American Society of Adaptation Professionals

The Association of State Floodplain Managers

New Jersey Association of Floodplain Management

What advice would you give someone just entering this field?

Resilience planning is still a new and evolving field within land use planning. One must maintain an open mind and be flexible about what constitutes resilience. Build a solid foundation in public participation and meeting facilitation because to push forward in this field you will be called on often to convince the general public and local government officials, who are often reluctant or pessimistic, that resilience is a worthwhile ideal for community’s to strive for.