Natural Areas Program

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The Natural Areas Program in Oregon is partnership between the Oregon Natural Areas Program established by the Oregon Legislature in 1979, and an interagency effort to establish state, federal and private natural areas throughout the Pacific Northwest. The interagency effort has been overseen by the U.S. Forest Service to coordinate the interagency Natural Areas Committee. 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.

In Oregon, the natural areas program is best described in the Oregon Natural Areas Plan. The Natural Heritage Advisory Council, as part of the states effort outlined in the Natural Heritage Act, created a Register of Natural Heritage Resources and some state Dedicated Natural Areas.

The Oregon Legistlature updated the Oregon Natural Areas Act in 2012. These laws set out the definitions of the Natural Areas Program, the Advisory Committee, agency duties, the process of dedicating natural areas, and other findings. All Oregon laws are viewable on the Oregon laws search site, or laws related to state lands can be found at, with the Natural Areas Program law starting at 273.563.

Photo of painted hills at Juniper Hills Preserve
© Alan D. St. John

 © 2014 Institute for Natural Resources