Overview

Sarah Stauffer Curtiss helps clients navigate complex permitting processes, understand and comply with environmental and land use laws, and develop creative compliance solutions that enhance business opportunities. On Oregon land use matters, Sarah specializes in permitting complex projects on farm- and forest-zoned lands. She has worked with city and county planning departments throughout Oregon and regularly represents clients before local governing bodies and the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.

She also represents energy and utility clients on permitting and compliance matters related to project development, expansion, and amendment through the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC).

Her federal environmental expertise covers a myriad of environmental laws, with an emphasis on protected species issues under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA), and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), as well as federal environmental review issues under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Licensed to practice in Oregon and Washington, Sarah is a former Chair of the Real Estate and Land Use Section of the Oregon State Bar. She prides herself in helping clients develop innovative solutions to problems and in working collaboratively with clients, consultants, and agency staff.

During law school, Sarah served as an environmental law clerk at the United States Attorney’s Office in Portland and as a judicial extern for the Honorable Robert E. Jones, United States District Court for the District of Oregon. Before attending law school, Sarah was a seventh-grade English teacher with Teach for America in Houston, Texas.

Education

Lewis & Clark College Law School, J.D., 2007, cum laude; Associate Editor, Environmental Law, 2006-2007; Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law

University of Chicago, M.A. Humanities, 2001

Pacific Lutheran University, B.A. History, 2000, magna cum laude

Admissions

Oregon

Washington

United States District Court for the District of Oregon

United States U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Experience

Local Land Use

Counsels clients throughout Oregon on local development code provisions that apply to their properties and represents property owners in connection with development applications, including post-acknowledgment comprehensive plan amendments, zone changes, subdivisions, partitions, property line adjustments, conditional use permits, adjustments, variances, site plan reviews, historic resource reviews, design reviews, and environmental reviews.

  • Obtained conditional use permit and Statewide Planning Goal 4 exception from Klamath County for a solar and battery energy storage project located on forest-zoned land.
  • Secured conditional use approval from Deschutes County for community center on farm-zoned land.
  • Obtained comprehensive plan amendment and conditional use permit from Morrow County for an aggregate quarry on farm-zoned land.
  • Secured comprehensive plan and zoning map amendments from Umatilla County for a sand and gravel facility on farm-zoned land.
  • Successfully appealed Clackamas County’s initial denial of an application for a winery under ORS 215.452.
  • Secured multiple site design and development review approvals for wineries and ancillary tasting rooms in the Willamette Valley.
  • Assisted multiple educational institutions on land use and entitlement issues related to campus development and expansion, including advising on the implementation of the City of Portland’s new institutional zones.
  • Secured Type IV Demolition Review approval from the City of Portland for the demolition of a contributing resource in a historic district.
  • Obtained conditional use permits from Columbia County for new monitoring and injection/withdrawal wells for underground natural gas storage field.
  • Secured conditional use permit for public sector client from the City of Portland to build a residential group living facility.
  • Obtained county vested rights approval under Ballot Measure 49 for residential development in the heart of Oregon wine country.

State Energy Facility Siting

Regularly advises energy and utility clients on permitting and compliance matters related to project development and expansion through the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council.

  • Currently representing multiple renewable energy operators and developers on applications for site certificates or amendments to site certificates.
  • Obtained site certificate for 50 MW solar energy and battery storage facility.
  • Secured site certificate amendment to facilitate repower of permitted wind facility.
  • Represented wind energy operator on multiple site certificate amendments to bifurcate facilities.
  • Obtained site certificate amendments for modifications to three existing wind projects to facilitate repowering.
  • Secured site certificate amendment to add solar to permitted wind facility.
  • Obtained site certificate amendment to modify turbine specifications and add energy storage to approved wind facility.
  • Represented multiple wind energy developers and operators on site certificate transfers.
  • Secured site certificate for 75 MW solar photovoltaic energy facility, the first solar facility permitted through the Oregon EFSC.
  • Represented applicant on a proposed 650 MW natural gas-fired power plant, including a multi-year contested case proceeding, an application that was later withdrawn due to market conditions.
  • Assisted on all aspects of preparation of application for site certificate for two 500 MW wind facilities, both of which were later withdrawn due to market conditions.

Federal Environmental Permitting and Compliance

Represents clients across the country on Endangered Species Act (ESA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) compliance issues, including advising on the risk of enforcement and/or prosecution; assisting with the development of conservation plans and strategies; helping clients navigate the incidental take permitting process; and advising on related National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) issues.

  • Represents landowners and project operators on protected species investigation and enforcement matters involving the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement.
  • Counsels on MBTA liability and related compliance issues (e.g., nest removal).
  • Advises clients on BGEPA permitting and compliance strategies, including the development of eagle conservation plans to support the issuance of eagle incidental take permits. Currently assisting clients with eagle incidental take permit applications in USFWS Regions 1, 2, 3, 6, and 8.
  • Secured eagle incidental take permits in Regions 1, 2, and 3.
  • Advises clients on ESA compliance strategies, including the development of voluntary habitat conservation plans (HCP), safe harbor agreements, and candidate conservation agreements. Currently assisting clients with incidental take permit applications in USFWS Regions 1, 3, and 8.
  • Secured complex amendment to an existing multi-species HCP.
  • Secured Bureau of Land Management right-of-way grants for transmission line and access road to accommodate solar facility on private land.
  • Secured a special use permit (SF 299) from the U.S. Forest Service for a hydropower facility on National Forest System Lands.
  • Counseled natural gas pipeline developer regarding consistency with forest plans under the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) and the Northwest Forest Plan.

Insights

Insights & Presentations

  • “Oregon Court of Appeals Says City Not Precluded from Rejecting Redevelopment Application” (co-author), Oregon Real Estate and Land Use Digest, July 2022
  • Presenter, “Renewable Energy Development,” Pacific Northwest Timberlands Management: Regulations, Litigation, and Business Considerations, The Seminar Group, March 2022
  • “Tribal Laws and Land Issues” (co-author), Chapter 10, The Law of Solar: A Guide to Business and Legal Issues, Stoel Rives LLP, Sixth Edition, 2022
  • “Siting and Permitting Wind Projects” (co-author), Chapter 3, The Law of Wind: A Guide to Business and Legal Issues, Stoel Rives LLP, Ninth Edition, 2022
  • “Tribal Laws and Land Issues” (co-author), Chapter 6, The Law of Wind: A Guide to Business and Legal Issues, Stoel Rives LLP, Ninth Edition, 2022
  • “Navigating Oregon’s land use system requires awareness, vigilance, and flexibility,” Portland Business Journal, September 2021
  • Presenter, “Habitat Conservation Plans in Oregon, 23rd Annual Oregon Land Use Law Seminar, December 2019
  • Presenter, “Bald and Golden Eagle Act Prohibitions and Permits, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation: Endangered Species and Other Wildlife, November 2019.
  • Presenter, “Land Use 101 for Real Estate Lawyers,” OSB Real Estate and Land Use Section Annual Conference, August 2019
  • Presenter and Panelist, “The Anatomy of a Wind Farm: Decommissioning,” American Wind Energy Association Wind Project Siting and Environmental Compliance Conference, April 2019
  • Presenter, “Issue Spotting for Higher Ed Institutions: Campus Planning & Development,” Stoel Rives seminar, April 2019
  • Presenter, “Solar Energy and Agricultural Lands,” 22nd Annual Oregon Land Use Law Seminar, December 2018
  • Presenter and Panelist, “Critical Critters: Creating Conditions for Success,” Society of American Foresters National Convention, October 2018
  • Presenter, “Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Incidental Take, What Now?,” Northwest Public Power Association Environmental Task Force, April 2018
  • Presenter, “Enforcement Actions under MBTA and BGEPA: Civil Settlement Agreements to Resolve Past Eagle Take,” MBTA & BGEPA Conference, December 2017
  • Presenter and Panelist, “Using Innovative Solutions to Tailor Protected Species Compliance Strategies,” American Wind Energy Association Wind Project Siting & Environmental Compliance Conference, March 2017
  • Presenter, “New Year, New Eagle Rule: What It Means for Project Developers and Operators,” Stoel Rives webinar, January 2017
  • Presenter, “Floodplain Regulation in Flux: Biological Opinion on the National Flood Insurance Program in Oregon,” Oregon APA Chapter Legal Issues Workshop, December 2016
  • Presenter and Panelist, “BGEPA Permit Program,” Avian Species: Eagles and Migratory Birds Conference, November 2016
  • “Mining on 10 Million Acres in Six States Impacted by BLM’s Proposed Withdrawal to Protect Sage-Grouse Habitat” (co-author), ABA Mining and Mineral Extraction Committee Newsletter, September 2016
  • Presenter, “Environmental Law Update” Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation: 62nd Annual Institute, July 2016
  • “U.S. Supreme Court Punts on Federal Authority over River in Alaska,” Oregon Real Estate and Land Use Digest, April 2016
  • Panelist, “Special Rules Under Section 4(d)—Conservation or Compromise?” Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Special Institute on the Endangered Species Act, November 2015
  • “A Necessary Tool for Conservation: The Case for Section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act” Endangered Species Act: Current and Emerging Issues Affecting Resource Development, Paper 7C (Rock Mt. Min. L. Fdn. 2015)
  • Presenter, “Writing in Administrative Law,” University of Oregon Law School, April 2015
  • Presenter and Panelist, “Legal Developments in Wildlife Protection: Eagles and Migratory Birds,” American Wind Energy Association Siting Seminar, March 2015
  • Presenter and Panelist, “Incidental Take Under the MBTA and BGEPA: Recent Cases and Development,” Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, March 2015
  • Presenter, “2015 Land Use Legislative Preview,” Stoel Rives Land Use Lunch Seminar Series, January 2015
  • Moderator, “Compliance and Risk Avoidance Strategies for Possible Northern Long-Eared Bar Listing,” Stoel Rives webinar, December 2014
  • Presenter, “Impact Assessments in Project Permitting,” Northwest Environmental Conference, December 2014
  • “LUBA Affirms County Approval of Rest Area Project,” Oregon Real Estate and Land Use Digest, December 2014
  • Presenter, “Inside the New Eagle ‘Take’ Rule,” Stoel Rives Outside In, April 2014
  • “Local Ordinance Requiring Conditional Use Permit for Shooting Range Not Preempted by State Law,” Oregon Real Estate and Land Use Digest, March 2014
  • Moderator, “Finding the Balance: Wind Energy and Avian Conservation,” webinar, January 2014
  • “Wind Energy Operators Need Eagle Eyes for New Rules” (co-author), Law360, January 2014

Podcasts

Recognition

  • Selected as one of “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” (Oregon) by Chambers USA (Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use), 2022–present
  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America® (Environmental Law, Land Use and Zoning Law), 2022–present
  • Listed among Rising Stars (Land Use/Zoning), Oregon Super Lawyers®, 2013–2017
  • Selected by the Portland Business Journal as a Forty Under 40 honoree, 2016

Affiliations

Professional

  • Real Estate and Land Use Section Executive Committee, Oregon State Bar, Immediate former Chair
  • Luncheon Sub-Committee, Real Estate and Land Use Section, Oregon State Bar, Member
  • Oregon Women Lawyers, Member

Civic

  • “I Have A Dream” Foundation—Oregon, former Board Member
Jump to Page