Sarah Stauffer Curtiss

Sarah Stauffer Curtiss

Portland, OR

About Sarah

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).


Sarah Stauffer Curtiss is well regarded in a variety of zoning and land use issues, including in the mining and energy sectors.

“‘Sarah is one of the best attorneys I have had the pleasure to work with. She consistently delivers the highest quality service and products within tight project timelines.’ ‘Sarah is an outstanding legal resource for our permitting teams.’”
Chambers 2022         


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 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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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 comprehensive plan amendment and conditional use permit from Morrow County for an aggregate quarry.
  • Secured conditional use approval from Deschutes County for community center on farm-zoned land.
  • Successfully appealed Clackamas County’s initial denial of an application for a winery under ORS 215.452.
  • 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 wind energy operator on site certificate amendment to existing facility to accommodate repower.
  • Currently representing multiple solar energy developers on applications for site certificates.
  • Representation of wind energy operator on multiple site certificate amendments to bifurcate facilities.
  • Representation of wind energy operator on site certificate amendments to four existing projects to facilitate repowering.
  • Representation of wind energy operator on site certificate amendment to add solar to permitted wind facility.
  • Representation of wind energy developer on site certificate amendment to modify turbine specifications and add energy storage to approved facility.
  • Representation of multiple wind energy developers and operators on site certificate transfers.
  • Representation of solar energy developer on proposal to construct and operate a 75 MW solar photovoltaic energy facility, the first solar facility permitted through the Oregon EFSC.
  • Representation of 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.
  • Representation of applicant on 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, 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 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 a client with the preparation of a multi-species HCP for aquatic and terrestrial species.
  • 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.

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.
  • Representation of riparian owner before Oregon Office of Administrative Hearings on issues pertaining to unlawful use of adjacent submerged lands by adverse party.
  • Representation of client before Department of State Lands on enforcement order for non-compliance with Removal-Fill permit.
  • Obtained approval from Clackamas County for existing dock within “limited use” stretch of Willamette River Greenway.
  • Representation of 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 one of “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” (Oregon) by Chambers USA (currently: Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use), 2022
  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America® (currently: Environmental Law, Land Use and Zoning Law), 2022–2023
  • 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
  • Immediate Past Chair, Real Estate and Land Use Section Executive Committee, Oregon State Bar
  • Member, Luncheon 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
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Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

Related News & Publications

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