Sarah Stauffer Curtiss

Sarah Stauffer Curtiss
Portland, OR

About Sarah

Sarah Stauffer Curtiss helps clients understand and comply with environmental and land use laws, navigate complex permitting processes, and develop compliance solutions that enhance business opportunities. On Oregon land use matters, Sarah helps clients secure permits from local governments. 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 and expansion through the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC).

Her federal environmental expertise covers a myriad of environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA).

Sarah also advises clients on permitting and compliance issues pertaining to waterways and wetlands, including securing permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA), and Oregon's Removal-Fill Law.

Licensed to practice in Oregon and Washington, Sarah prides herself in helping clients develop innovative solutions to problems and on working collaboratively with clients, consultants, and agency staff.

During law school, Sarah served as an environmental law clerk at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland (2006-2007) and as a judicial extern for the Honorable Robert E. Jones, U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon (2006). Before attending law school, Sarah was a seventh-grade English teacher with Teach for America in Houston, Texas (2001-2004).

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Federal Environmental Permitting and Compliance

  • Represents utilities and wind energy developers across the country on Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Bald and Golden Eagle Act compliance issues, including advising on the risk of enforcement and/or prosecution; assisting with the development of eagle conservation plans, bird and bat conservation strategies, avian protecting plans, and other conservation approaches; helping clients navigate the eagle take permitting process; and advising on effective National Environmental Policy Act strategies to expedite the issuance of programmatic permits.
  • Represents landowners and developers on Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7 consultation issues, including issues related to designated critical habitat. Recent projects have involved Section 7 consultation on Columbia white-tailed deer and Canada lynx.
  • Regularly advises clients on ESA compliance strategies, including the development of habitat conservation plans, safe harbor agreements, and candidate conservation agreements. Currently assisting clients with the preparation of a conservation strategy for lesser prairie-chicken.
  • 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 and the Northwest Forest Plan.

Local Land Use

  • Counsels clients throughout Oregon on local development or zoning code provisions that apply to their properties and represents property owners in connection with applications for post-acknowledgement comprehensive plan amendments, zone changes, subdivisions, partitions, property line adjustments, conditional use permits, adjustments, variances, historic resource reviews, design reviews, and environmental reviews.
  • Secured Type IV Demolition Review approval from the City of Portland for the demolition of a contributing resource in a historic district.
  • Secured conditional use permits from Columbia County for new monitoring and injection/withdrawal wells for underground natural gas storage field.
  • Helped numerous clients respond to proposed comprehensive plan and zoning changes under the City of  Portland’s Comprehensive Plan Update process.
  • 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.
  • Helped local school district legalize unlawfully created units of land to facilitate development of middle school.

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 project developer on proposal to construct and operate a 75 MW solar photovoltaic energy facility.
  • Represented applicant on a proposed 650 MW natural gas-fired power plant, including a multi-year contested case proceeding.
  • Helped secure site certificate amendment for underground natural gas storage field to include new storage reservoirs and new transmission pipeline.
  • Assisted on all aspects of preparation of application for site certificate for two 500 MW wind facilities.

Wetlands and Waterways

  • Represents clients on state and federal wetland permitting requirements, as well as requirements for working within waters of the state and waters of the U.S.
  • Secured after-the-fact permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act for existing unauthorized dock in Willamette River.
  • Represented riparian owner before Oregon Office of Administrative Hearings on issues pertaining to unlawful use of adjacent submerged lands by adverse party.
  • Represented client before Department of State Lands on enforcement order for non-compliance with Removal-Fill permit.
  • Obtained county approval for existing dock within “limited use” stretch of Willamette River Greenway.
  • Represented renewable energy trade association and certain members in providing extensive comments on the reissuance of the Nationwide Permit program.
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Honors & Activities

  • Selected as part of the Portland Business Journal's "Forty Under 40," 2016
  • Listed among Rising Stars (Land Use/Zoning), Oregon Super Lawyers®, 2013-2017
  • Treasurer, Real Estate and Land Use Section, Oregon State Bar
  • Member, Executive Committee, Luncheon Sub-Committee, and Land Use Legislative Sub-Committee, Real Estate and Land Use Section, Oregon State Bar
  • Member, Oregon Women Lawyers
  • Board Member, “I Have A Dream” Foundation – Oregon, 2009-2014 
  • Volunteer Lawyer, Small Business Legal Clinic, Lewis & Clark Law School
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Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

Related News & Publications

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