What is the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition

clean gravels on the Middle Fork Willamette River
clean gravels on the Middle Fork Willamette River

We are an ad hoc coalition of groups working together to educate policymakers and the public about the need for stronger stream protection rules on Oregon’s private forestlands. Our coordinator is Mary Scurlock, a longtime freshwater conservation advocate.  Contact Mary

The Oregon Stream Protection Coalition is a collaborative project of the Washington Forest Law Center and the Coast Range Association. We are honored to be supported by funding from the Lazar Foundation and Burning Foundation.

 

Download our briefing document to learn more about why Oregon’s stream protection rules need to be improved.

What does the Coalition want?

We want the state of Oregon to implement science-based forest practices regulations and supporting landowner programs for logging and associated activities on private forestlands that are adequate to meet water quality standards and to prevent impairment of native aquatic species recovery. Our short-term policy objective for 2014 and 2015 is for the Oregon Board of Forestry to adopt new stream protection rules under the Oregon Forest Practices Act to prevent logging that warms streams.  These rules would meet the “Protecting Coldwater Criterion” of Oregon’s stream temperature standards.   For a more detailed explanation of the current inadequacies of forest practice rules and what improvements are needed, read OSPC’s Issue Brief.

The photos below illustrate how the landscape looks on private lands in Oregon after logging under the current forest practices rules.

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Logging on private lands near the headwaters of Oxbow creek. Photo by David Tvedt.

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Logging on private lands just over Oxbow Saddle in the headwaters of South Sister Creek. Photo by David Tvedt.

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The current rulemaking process is focused only on private forestlands in Western Oregon.

ForestedLandsinWesternOregonLOfromEPA-PL-2015
Source: EPA, Corvallis, 2015.

The Board of Forestry riparian rule change should not be limited to only those stream streams that  provide habitat for “salmon, steelhead and bull trout.”  (SSBT streams) In watersheds where a Total Maximum Dailly Load allocation for stream temperature exists, that load allocation and the stream reaches to which it applies must be included.

The following graphic illustrates that SSBT streams are only 25% of all the streams on private forestlands, most of which need stronger protection but won’t get it from this rule process.

SSBT streams versus all perennial stream WO- EPA 2015
Source: EPA, Corvallis, 2015.

 

For more information about the interplay between the cold water water quality standard and existing TMDLs, read NEA’s letter to the EPA and NOAA, and its attached memo to the Oregon Department of Forestry.   (See also  OSPC member Northwest Environmental Advocates’ memo to the Oregon Department of Forestry).

Furthermore, addressing shade is just a first step toward fixing Oregon’s logging rules.  Rules and landowner incentives also need to ensure streams aren’t harmed by sediment from roads and logging-associated landslides, and that forest managers are leaving enough trees to enable natural stream processes to create the kind of in-stream habitats native salmon and other aquatic species need to thrive.

 

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