Tag: Planning Public Policy and Management

Exploring Northeast Oregon’s New Natural Resource Economy

By Aniko Drlik-Muehleck

In the lull before the finals week storm (or rather, in the midst of preparing for that storm), first year planning graduate students Aiden Forsi, Michael Graham, and Steph Nappa headed off on a whirlwind tour of Northeast Oregon. Their mission: to gain firsthand experience with the “New Natural Resource Economy.”

The new WHAT, you ask? Good question. PPPM Professor Emeritus Mike Hibbard and his research colleague Dr. Sue Lurie have been investigating what they call the new, or next, natural resource economy, aka NNRE, for many years. As part of a year-long project funded by Meyer Memorial Trust, the Ford Family Foundation, and the Oregon Community Foundation, Professor Hibbard and Dr. Lurie are partnering with the CSC to engage graduate students in an applied economic development project centered on the NNRE in Eastern Oregon.

Students Steph Nappa, Michael Graham, and Aiden Forsi get a tour of Stein Distillery with Professor Mike Hibbard and Dan Stein.

But what is the new natural resource economy? For the long answer, we suggest you read Professor Hibbard’s and Dr. Lurie’s 2013 article in Society & Natural Resources. In brief, however, the NNRE is comprised of small businesses using natural resources in innovative ways that emphasize environmental stewardship. These businesses are contributing to new markets like sustainable farming, habitat restoration, and eco-tourism that complement –not necessarily replace –the traditional, extraction-based natural resource economy

It is perhaps easiest to illustrate with some examples from the students’ trip:

  • Upper Dry Creek Ranch is a vertically integrated, 100% grassfed beef and lamb ranch. The Cosner family has worked for decades to create a system of ranching that centers on the health of their animals and their land.
  • The Plantworks is a native plant nursery focused on habitat restoration. Sandy Roth and Dick Kenton collect seeds directly from habitat restoration sites, nurture these native plants through their initial stages of growth, then work to restore ecosystems using the plants.
  • Stein Distillery is a micro-distillery sourcing local grain from the family farm. Owner Dan Stein transformed a hobby into an award-winning business when he opened to the public in 2009. Spent grains from the distilling process are returned to the farm as fertilizer for the crop that will feed the next batch of handcrafted whiskey, bourbon, vodka, rum, and cordials.
  • Wilson Ranches Retreat is a bed and breakfast on a working, traditionally managed ranch. The Wilson family is committed to educating visitors about ranching practices that preserve and care for the delicate rangeland of North-central Oregon.

Natural resources and agriculture have always been the backbone of rural life, but the American economy is changing rapidly, shifting away from natural resources towards technology and services. This shift has left many rural communities behind. Professor Hibbard and Dr. Lurie believe that growth of the new natural resource economy may pave the way for rural revitalization in areas hard-hit by economic transition.

As the student team continues to investigate the NNRE in Eastern Oregon, stay tuned for ideas about how policymakers and economic developers can support this emerging sector.

Consider the Process

By Ethan Struckmeyer

You wake up early, rubbing the sleep from your eyes. You begin to go over the plan you’ve prepared for the big moment. You put on the appropriate clothes and tie your shoes. You walk out the door ready to tackle the challenge ahead of you. Soon, nerves creep in and you start to wonder if you’re really as prepared as you thought you were. But once you’ve started you’re reminded that you’ve got this. After all, you’ve been preparing for this for quite some time. Finally, after it’s all over, you can leave feeling like you’ve accomplished something important.

Ethan Team TillamookThis is the process navigated by my Community Planning Workshop team and I as we set out to meet with our client in the land of trees, cheese, and ocean breeze – Tillamook County. It was our first in-person visit with county staff since our project started in January. The goal of the meeting was to gain a better understanding of what specific sections of their Development Code could be improved to better mitigate the risks to life and property caused by natural hazards in the area such as landslide, coastal erosion, flooding, and tsunami.

Similarly, this is also the process we navigated as we set out for a post-client meeting group run through the trails of Cape Lookout, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The 4.6 mile, out and back trail provided the perfect amount of challenge and scenic views as we debriefed our recently concluded client meeting.

At first read, you probably thought “I respectfully disagree with you, Ethan. How could you have followed the same process when client meetings and trail running are completely dissimilar?”

Well, thank you for asking.

When you think about it and begin to parse out the main aspects of each situation you will start to see the similarities – plan, practice, and execute.

Before heading into either situation, whether it’s going for a run or meeting with a client, you need to make a plan. How far can you run and where will you go? Can you run 4 miles without feeling like your lungs are on fire? What are the main objectives you hope to accomplish in your meeting? Do you have the right shoes?

After you’ve made your plan, you need to practice. How many times do you run in a week? Are you getting better at it? Do you know exactly what you’re going to present to the client? Are you knowledgeable enough to answer any questions your client might have on your topic? You don’t want to stumble. You might scuff your knee.

Now that you’ve set out your plan and you’ve been practicing, all you need to do is execute. Are you nervous you’ll make a mistake? Don’t be. You’ve planned for that. Keep calm, breathe, and you’ll get to the finish line.

Ethan Struckmayer

Ethan StruckmayerBorn, raised, and educated in Minnesota, I moved to Oregon in 2014 to serve in the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) Americorps Program where I worked on land-use and long range planning for the cities of Donald and Gervais. I’m now in my first year studying to become a Master of Community and Regional Planning at the University of Oregon. You can usually find me playing disc golf, homebrewing, or watching a Green Bay Packers game.