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Testimony Re: Eastern Oregon, Blue Mountain and Siskiyou Geographic Region Streamside Protections Review

Download a PDF of the testimony

Mary Scurlock, Oregon Stream Protection Coalition
Re: Eastern Oregon, Blue Mountain and Siskiyou Geographic Region Streamside
Protections Review (Agenda Item 7)
July 25, 2017

This agenda item reports on work in progress, and staff is not requesting a specific Board
decision. The focus today is on whether the information staff currently intends to generate
for the Board will be adequate for the Board to make a decision about how it will focus
monitoring resources to address the adequacy of stream protections.

On behalf of Oregon Stream Protection Coalition’s 25 national, regional and local
organizations, I would like to take this opportunity to comment on project focus, the
decision timeline, and landowner advisory committee input.

A word on process. Because the staff work is extremely preliminary, it seems to us that the
Board should request at least one more report from staff before the Board actually selects
its path forward, at which interim point the Board could consider the adequacy of a more
developed conceptual decision framework.

Project Focus and Timeline

We fully appreciate that there are other riparian functions than those related to shade and
stream temperature that are relevant to Forest Practices Act objectives and Board duties.
But given that the Charter Work Plan states a broad objective for this project: to develop “a
list of monitoring questions related to the effectiveness of FPA riparian protection
standards in Eastern Oregon and the Siskiyou geographic region,” we’d urge the Board do
what it can to focus monitoring resources on specific questions as quickly as resources

It is clear that this Board’s decisions to exclude these regions from the westside Protecting
Coldwater Criterion/SSBT rulemaking precipitated initiation of this geographically–
focused monitoring project. Therefore, it would be logical for the Board to prioritize
adequacy of the stream protection rules to protect stream temperature in these regions. As
we did when the PCW/SSBT rulemaking was initiated, we urge attention to the specific
parameters of state water quality standards for temperature as expressed by the PCW,
ambient standards and TMDL load allocations for nonpoint sources.

Whether or not other questions also are addressed, initial priority should be placed on
addressing: 1) whether best available information supports a finding/presumption that
the current stream protection rules are adequate to maintain and restore stream
temperatures as required by water quality standards in eastern Oregon and the Siskiyou.
This would address whether there is a strong basis NOT to extend the scope of inference
from Ripstream to these regions; 2) whether there is additional information the
Department gather or generate with existing resources and within some reasonable
timeframe to inform the question of what rules would be adequate? We concur with staff’s
idea of presenting options for the Board that address study rigor; we would add that this
consideration should be explicitly linked to an assessment of the level of scientific
uncertainty around an issue.

Regarding timeline, we urge the Board to set clear expectations on a timeline for staff to
generate the information it will need to make a decision about the critical questions it
wants answered and how. We have concerns about any timeline any longer than four to six
months for selecting questions for the monitoring unit to focus on.

Advisory Committee Input

We won’t respond in detail here to the input from the three landowner advisory
committees. In general, we have concerns about why the opinions of these landowner
representatives are being shared on behalf of the committees when no other stakeholder
input is being shared with the Board or the public. The appearance is that input from
landowner stakeholders is given more weight and Board airtime than that from other
stakeholders, despite the fact that staff has characterized the purpose of stakeholder input
in this context to elicit the full range of stakeholder views. Further, the development of
committee opinions and positions about how and whether to conduct scientific research
seems outside the scope of these committees, i.e. the operational implications of actual
policy change proposals.

We will also make a couple of initial responses to the committees’ input.

• The landowner perspective seems to be that each region should be assumed to have
“unique riparian functions” that can only be understood by launching new region-­
by-­region research projects to determine whether a problem with current rules
exists. In our view, recommending this approach makes unsupported assumptions
that valid inferences adequate to the purposes of this monitoring program cannot be
made from existing research. We look forward to seeing the monitoring team’s own
analysis in this regard.

• The landowners also call for biological monitoring, such as “fish abundance and
size.” Respectfully, we disagree that these are likely to be informative metrics for a
host of reasons. While this kind of research is important and has a place, at the
present time it is not in the ODF’s underfunded monitoring program. We urge the Board
to focus on monitoring for parameters that relate directly to attainment of the objectives
of the Forest Practices Act – the water quality standards designed by DEQ to
protect fish and other beneficial uses. It is DEQ’s job to determine what parameters
are necessary to protect beneficial uses, and it is ODF’s job to meet those parameters.1

• The Committee for Family Forestlands provided opinions about the “general
approach to collecting appropriate data to inform” the streamside protections
review. We believe that that adding a fish population study would be costly, time
consuming, highly unlikely to be scientifically informative as proposed, and
irrelevant to the already extant policy and legal context, which has already been
considered at length and integrates known effects on fish.

• Regarding the EOAC’s endorsement of the 2003 “ERFAC” report, the Board should
recognize that this report reflected only landowner views: the sole conservation-­
oriented member of that committee actually wrote a letter attached to the report
that expressed the view that conservation interests were not adequately
represented. With respect to the EOAC’s opinion on the extreme complexity of
Eastern Oregon ecosystems, we must respectfully disagree. Eastern Oregon streams
are no more complex than any other streams. In terms of temperature and shade
relations specifically, they are the same.

• The EOAC does make some astute observations on Idaho rules and how they lay
down on the ground, and we urge ODF to explore this further, in addition to both CA
and WA rules. In Idaho, it is our understanding that the common outcome of no-­cut
50-­foot buffers being required to achieve shade and stocking objectives simply
reflects the biophysical reality of the riparian forest situation in the interior west.

• We are further concerned about the EOAC’s implication that that fish use streams
that are dry or have intermittent dry reaches in the summer should not be equally
considered as other fish streams purposes of riparian protection. This implication
bears further scrutiny for its ecological basis. In Oregon, a stream or lake has fish use
if it is occupied—at any time of year—by fish that are anadromous, game species, or
listed as threatened or endangered under the state or federal endangered species acts,
unless fish are present due only to introduction. There is currently no regulatory or
other reason of which we are aware to treat periodically dry reaches of perennial
fish use streams differently than other fish use reaches.

The protection goal for water quality, per ORS 527.765 is to ensure through the described forest practices that, to the maximum extent practicable, non-­point source discharges of pollutants resulting from forest operations do not impair the achievement and maintenance of the water quality standards.

New logging rule allows continued harm to streams (Oregonian guest opinion)

The authors argue that salmon in the Rogue River can't afford another 15-year process to make changes that the state of Washington and California made over a decade ago.
The authors argue that salmon in the Rogue River can’t afford another 15-year process to make changes that the state of Washington and California made over a decade ago. (Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian)


Too little, too late is the name of the game when it comes to protecting streams from harmful forestry practices in Oregon.

On July 1, a new rule that pushes clearcut logging on private forestlands farther from the edge of streams that support salmon, steelhead and bull trout took effect. Essentially, the rule requires a small increase in the amount of trees near streams, known as a “stream buffer.” More trees and vegetation along stream banks helps to keep our rivers cool. The science is clear that removing trees contributes to warming stream temperatures, which can stress or kill native fish.

The problem is that the rule change is both too little and too late for Oregon streams. Not only will the new rule still allow logging too close to salmon streams to reliably prevent warming, it will only apply to part of Western Oregon, and, at most, a small distance upstream of salmon, steelhead and bull trout reaches.

After 15 years of taxpayer-supported research and public process, the vast majority of the forest streams on Oregon’s more than 10 million acres of private timberlands will still be subject to clearcutting within 20 feet or less of streams, with most streams receiving no buffer at all.

Streams that are left behind include the iconic waters of the Siskiyou region that flow into the Rogue River. The waters of the Rogue support habitat for threatened salmon, and many are consistently too warm. Despite sound science and policy logic for extending even the modest improvements of the rule to the rest of the state, the Siskiyou and eastern Oregon remain excluded.

The Board of Forestry, which makes stream rules, has directed its staff to start looking into new rules for the Siskiyou and Eastern Oregon. But there seems to be little urgency for action.

Salmon in the Rogue River can’t afford another 15-year process to make changes that the state of Washington and California made over a decade ago. The governor, the Environmental Quality Commission and the Board of Forestry should move quickly and decisively to keep all Oregon streams cool, starting with updated standards for the Siskiyou region.

Stacey Detwiler is the conservation director of Rogue Riverkeeper; Moary Scurlock, coordinator of the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition.

View opinion in the Oregonian

Oregon’s Forest Practices Act Requires: Wider Stream Buffers & A New Stream Classification

View original email notice from the Oregon State Forester

Oregon’s Forest Practices Act Requires:

Wider Stream Buffers & A New Stream Classification
Dear Friend,

I write to update you about changes to the Forest Practices Act Water Protection Rules. New rules to protect cold water streams that support salmon, steelhead or bull trout are effective July 1, 2017.

The Oregon Board of Forestry added the salmon, steelhead and bull trout stream
classification, known as SSBT. It made this change based on science and public input.

These rules changed:

  • Division 600: Definitions
  • Division 635: Water Protection Rules: Purpose, Goals, Classification and Riparian Management Areas
  • Division 640: was deleted and replaced by Division 642
  • Division 642: Water Protection Rules: Vegetation along Streams

The changes may impact your forest management plans. If you have questions, please contact your local office for help using the Find a Forester tool.

To check on stream classifications go to LocatOR.

To learn more about submitting a notification of operation or subscribing to receive information about potential forestry work go to E-Notification.

Thank you for your time and help managing forests in Oregon for their many benefits!

Peter Daugherty
Oregon State Forester

Save the Date: Carbon Friendly Forestry Conference

Mark your calendar for September 12, 2017.  Washington Environmental Council will be bringing together the best minds on the West Coast to discuss how forest management practices can maximize carbon sequestration to combat climate change.

Join us at Cedarbrook Lodge for Carbon Friendly Forestry: A West Coast Forest Carbon Conference.

Registration will open soon!

For questions, please contact Arianne Jaco at

OSPC Testimony Voluntary Restoration Efforts Report

Download these comments 

These comments relate to the ODF-OWEB  Report on Voluntary Resoration Efforts by Forest Landowners

June 7, 2017
Public Comment on Agenda Item 5
ODF/OWEB Report on Voluntary Restoration Efforts by Forest Landowners
Mary Scurlock, Coordinator, Oregon Stream Protection Coalition (OSPC)

We appreciate the collaborative effort that went into producing March 2017 report entitled “Voluntary Efforts by Forest Landowners to Restore Salmon Habitat and Watersheds in the Oregon Coast Range.” We strongly support full recognition of land managers who voluntarily go above and beyond minimum regulatory requirements to improve aquatic habitats for their intrinsic value at their own expense. These efforts should continue to be encouraged.

However, OSPC is concerned about the extent to which the report implies that completion of projects is known to have benefited coho salmon in one way or another without reference to either implementation or effectiveness monitoring studies, or to whether the actions taken actually address recovery priorities under the federal ESA recovery plan. We note that, in general, NOAA Fisheries has cautioned that we will need to evaluate returns affected by the poor marine conditions of the last several years to understand the sufficiency of freshwater habitat.i  The 2016 Status review specifically notes that:

“New information available since the last status review indicates that a number of restoration and protection actions have been implemented in freshwater and estuary habitat throughout the range of OC coho salmon. However, at this time we do not have information that would reveal improvements in habitat quality, quantity, and function. Future status assessments would benefit from a systematic review and analysis of the amount of habitat addressed against those high priority strata identified in the NMFS 2015 Proposed Recovery Plan. We remain concerned about degraded habitat conditions throughout the range of the OC coho salmon ESU, particularly with regard to land use and development activities that affect the quality and accessibility of habitats and habitat-forming processes such as riparian condition and floodplain function as well as water quality. Overall, we conclude that the risk to the species’ persistence because of habitat destruction or modification has not changed since the last status review.ii

Effectiveness Monitoring is Needed.  The report itself acknowledges that effectiveness monitoring still is needed. Many of the projects acknowledged in the report were likely carefully designed for benefits to aquatic habitat, including the primary limiting factor for  coho recovery of habitat complexity. But this report does not itself evaluate the effectiveness of specific projects or the overall cumulative effectiveness of projects relative to any particular criteria or metrics (e.g. increased numbers of pools, channel-to-floodplain connectivity, off-channel habitat, stream temperature/water quality concerns, location of projects in priority reaches or which address priority recovery actions). In our view, the most important investment that the Department of Forestry’s monitoring unit can make related to voluntary efforts goes beyond merely counting the number and cost of projects to robust effectiveness monitoring — something that this report only aspires to do under next steps, resources permitting.

Until such monitoring is done, it is premature to make statements about the benefit of restoration projects – voluntary or otherwise – for coho.

We further encourage the Board’s attention to the participation of small forest landowners whose management objectives and need for incentives differ from those of industrial owners.

Expectations for the ecological benefits of voluntary restoration efforts should be realistic and based on metrics that relate to recovery outcomes. This effort to catalogue the last 20 years of voluntary restoration is an important piece of information because it will help set realistic expectations for voluntary efforts. The federal coho recovery plan recognizes the potentially positive role of these efforts.iii But unless and until such voluntary efforts are demonstrated to be effective and obviate the need for regulatory change, the need for stronger land use controls will remain.

Also needed is a further clarity about the metrics that will be used to demonstrate attainment of desired habitat recovery outcomes through any mechanisms, including those identified in the federal recovery plan. For timberlands, these metrics should relate to increased shade through increased retention of riparian trees, increased sustainable natural recruitment of large wood, and other factors related to habitat complexity and road system impact reductions. iv

i See e.g. NOAA-NMFS, 2016, 2016 5-Year Review at 12: “it is only when marine survival is low that it becomes apparent whether habitat quality and quantity are sufficient to support self-sustaining populations. With marine survival rates expected to decrease for OC coho salmon entering the ocean in 2014 (Peterson et al. 2014a and b), 2015, and 2016, it may be advisable to wait to observe how populations fare during this potential downturn before deciding to change their status (NWFSC 2015).”

iiId. at pp. 19-20, emphasis added.
iii iv


Voters approve ban on aerial pesticide spraying in Lincoln County

Post from Citizens for a Healthy County

A majority of voters who returned to sign unsigned ballots approved Measure 21-177, bringing the total vote to 6994 for the ban versus 6933 against it, making the ban on aerial pesticide spraying in Lincoln County a reality. Thanks to the many people who volunteered and campaigned so valiantly, the vast amounts spent by corporate opponents failed to convince voters that profits are more important than health, safety, and the right to informed consent.

By this victory, Lincoln County is the first county in the United States to ban aerial spraying of pesticides by the vote of the people. This is not the first time Lincoln County has spoken truth to power and won.

“Back in 1976, folks here put Lincoln County on the map by winning a huge landmark case against the United States government, stopping federal spraying of Agent Orange on our forests and homes and waterways,” said Susan Parker Swift. “Now Lincoln County has done it again. I couldn’t be prouder to share this repeat victory!”

Barbara Davis, co-petitioner of measure 21-177, says our win brought to her mind the following quote by Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

This election was the first major hurdle Measure 21-177 had to overcome to become a reality. Implementation of the measure, and the obstacles to it that opponents will raise, among them superior “rights” to override the rights of the people, including the people’s right to vote and their constitutional right to safety, are next. Citizens for a Healthy County will continue to meet those challenges, and welcomes all who are willing to join us in the effort.

Citizens for a Healthy County

For more information


It’s unanimous: Elliott State Forest will remain publicly owned (Oregonian article)

By Rob Davis,
The Oregonian

The Elliott State Forest, the 82,500-acre Coast Range parcel the state nearly sold to a timber company, will stay in public ownership, bringing an end to Oregon’s years-long flirtation with divesting the land.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson and state Treasurer Tobias Read voted Tuesday in Salem to halt the sale, pulling the remote forest back from the brink of a plan that was wildly unpopular with hunters, anglers and environmental groups.

The potential divestiture had put Oregon at the forefront of a nationwide debate over publicly owned land, leaving a Democrat-controlled state positioned to do something that some Republicans, including President Donald Trump’s interior secretary, have rejected.

Huge questions about the forest in Coos and Douglas counties remain unanswered. Chief among them: Which agency will manage the land, what role logging and recreation will play in its future and how many acres of the forest will be protected with a proposed $100 million investment from state taxpayers.

The sale had been driven by the archaic system by which Oregon holds the state forest. The state is constitutionally required to use revenue from logging the land to benefit schools. But logging was curtailed by environmental lawsuits after the state in 2011 tried to nearly double the amount of clear-cutting allowed each year.

The vote was a major win for Brown, who successfully fought back a February attempt to sell the land. Her plan would use $100 million in taxpayer-funded bonds to end the state’s obligation to earn money for schools from the forest’s old growth trees, riparian areas and steep slopes.

Under Brown’s proposal, decisions about the rest of the land would be entrusted to what’s called a habitat conservation plan, a blueprint that would dictate where logging could occur and where habitat for threatened species like the marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl would be protected. It would need federal approval, something that federal agencies withheld the last time Oregon tried to draft such a plan for the Elliott.

Liz Dent, a state department of forestry official, said the expected timber harvest under Brown’s plan would be about 20 million board feet each year – roughly half as much as the state’s aggressive 2011 plan that led to the situation today.

The vote was a remarkable turnaround for Read, a Democrat who has been assailed by environmental groups since siding in February with Richardson in rejecting Brown’s effort to keep the land public. Oregon Wild and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters had attacked the new treasurer through a social media campaign with the hashtag #betrayedmyvote.

Read and Richardson would have sold the forest for $221 million to Lone Rock Timber Management, which bid in conjunction with Native American tribes and The Conservation Fund. The state would’ve received an assurance that half of the forest would be kept open to public access.

Three months later, Read is now touting his own plan to build on Brown’s, offering Oregon State University the option to buy the forest for $121 million after the initial $100 million state investment.

Such an idea, which would decouple all of the forest from its school-funding obligation, appears to be a long shot.

Ed Ray, Oregon State’s president, described Read’s idea as “a burst of imagination,” noting that the university would use revenue from logging it to pay for its purchase. “I haven’t got $120 million lying around,” Ray said.

Thomas Maness, dean of Oregon State’s forestry school, said the university’s 15,000 acres of timber holdings do not include any old-growth habitat home to threatened species including the coastal Coho salmon, northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet. The Elliott would provide the school with a place to conduct long-term research to understand how active timber harvesting impacts them.

“If we don’t learn how to manage with these listed species we’re going to see disaster” in the state’s timber industry, Maness said. “We’ve learned nothing about managing with spotted owls.”

Rather than borrowing $100 million from taxpayers and paying additional interest on the debt, Richardson proposed swapping the high value state land for federal forests that aren’t home to endangered species. He offered scant detail, saying it would be modeled on similar transfers in Minnesota, California and Utah.

— Rob Davis

Oregon Stream Protection Coalition Comments on Proposed Riparian Rules

The following are the comments submitted by the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition regarding the proposed riparian rule changes:

OSPC Comments on Riparian Rules

Attachments to Comments


1- List of Oregon TMDLs Approved by EPA

2-TMDL Spreadsheet–Feb 2017 database of temperature impaired streams  

3- Oregon  TMDL  Status  Map

4- TMDL for the Applegated(Rogue) watershed

5- TMDL for Bear Creek (Rogue) watershed 

6- TMDL for the Clackamas Basin (Willamette) 

7- TMDL for the Lobster Creek (Rogue) watershed 

8-  TMDL for the Lower Sucker Creek (Rogue) watershed

9- TMDL for the McKenzie River (Willamette) 

10- TMDL for the Western Hood Watershed (Mid-Columbia) (Part 1) 

Part 2 – TMDL for the Western Hood Watershed (Mid Columbia) x

11-  TMDL for the Middle Willamette (Willamette) 

12- TMDL for the Rogue

13-  TMDL for the S Santiam (Willamette)

14- TMDL for the Sandy River basin

15- TMDL for the Umpqua basin (part 1) 

15- TMDL for the Umpua basin (part 2)

16- TMDL for the Upper South Fork Coquille watershed

17-  TMDL for the Coast Fork Willammete Subbasin 

18-  TMDL for the Middle Fork Willamette Subbasin

19 – TMDL for the Upper Willamette (Part 1) 

19 – TMDL for the Upper Willamette (Part 2) 

20- TMDL for the Lower Willamette

21- TMDL for the N Santiam (Willamette)

22- TMDL for the North Coast 

23- Frissell, C., Scurlock, M. Wright, B. The Western Oregon Paired Watershed Studies: Initial Results, Limitations (August 24, 2014) ris

24- McCullough, D.A. “Critique and Observations on Evaluation of ODF Proposal for Changes in the Riparain Rules under the Forest Practices Act.”

25- NOAA Fisheries, 2016. Oregon Coastal Coho Recovery Plan.

26- Berger C., S. Wells &  A. McCulla.  2009.  The Impact of Idaho Power Company’s Proposed Temperature Mitigation Projects on Temperatures in the Boise River and Snake River.

28- Comments of Ernie Niemi on Riparian rules. Feb. 8, 2017.

29- Oregon Department of Forestry. 2015. Riparian Rule Analysis: Methods for evaluating prescriptions and their geographic extent.

30- Oregon Department of Forestry. 2015. Riparian Rules Analysis: Analysis of riparian prescriptions and expected changes in restrictions.

31- Oregon Department of Forestry. 2015. Detailed Analysis Predicted Temperature Change Results.

32- Oregon Department of Forestry, 2016. “Riparian Rule Analysis: Additional analyses of riparian prescriptions and considerations for Board decisions.”

News Times Story: State forests to tighten logging rules near streams

 Board of Forestry accepting public comments on new streamside buffers through March 1

COURTESY PHOTO - Environmentalists are worried the new streamside buffer regulations still won't be enough to protect water temperatures and habitat. This photo shows a stand of forestland adhering to buffer rules by leaving a skinny strip of trees along a stream but clearcut beyond that.
COURTESY PHOTO – Environmentalists are worried the new streamside buffer regulations still won’t be enough to protect water temperatures and habitat. This photo shows a stand of forestland adhering to buffer rules by leaving a skinny strip of trees along a stream but clearcut beyond that.

Buffer zone rules that protect streams from the effects of logging are getting an upgrade for the first time in 25 years.The rule change will affect a number of local forest owners, as more than 20 percent of the state’s 10.5 million acres of private forestland is located in the Coast Range. The new rule will apply only to private forestland — not state or federal lands — and only applies to small and medium streams known for salmon, steelhead and bull trout.

Currently, Oregon Department of Forestry rules restrict logging within 50 feet of small streams and 70 feet of medium streams. The new rules would expand that buffer zone to 60 feet for small streams and 80 feet for medium streams. Limited logging would be allowed in those areas.

Trees near streams shade water, maintaining cool temperatures necessary for fish and their eggs to thrive. Some streamside trees also end up falling into the water, providing necessary building blocks for quality fish habitat with ample pools and cover. When trees near streams are logged, the water heats up and makes a harsh environment for Oregon’s fish and their eggs.

While the new rule appears to be just a 10-foot difference, the change also includes a rule that requires more trees to be left standing in a “well distributed” manner throughout the whole buffer. While the rule currently in place calls for 50- and 70-foot buffers, it’s possible for landowners to comply by leaving a narrow 20-foot no-harvest area bordering streams and clearcutting the rest of the buffer outside of that.

The new rules would maintain the current ban on all logging within 20 feet of streams. Trees left outside the 20-foot strip but still inside the buffer zone must be 8 inches or more in diameter. In addition, 40-foot buffers on the north side will be allowed on some streams running in the east-west direction.

While the proposed buffers are an improvement, environmentalists still think they fall short and are asking the public to voice their concerns.

“The new rule is still inadequate, it’s just less bad than the current rule,” said Mary Scurlock of the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition (OSPC), who thinks allowing even limited logging starting at 20 feet outside streams “is carelessly close.”

Scurlock said Department of Forestry analyses — consistent with other scientific findings — show an ideal buffer would fall between 90 and 120 feet. She also said the proposed new rules don’t adequately protect fish habitat because they ignore advice from the Environmental Protection Agency by not increasing water protection far enough upstream.

More than 90 percent of forest landowners won’t be affected by the new rule —and those that are will see the new rules affect an increase of .5 percent of their land.

For those more heavily impacted, there is an exception in the new rules that would allow continued logging closer than 60 to 80 feet. “Logging should never be allowed to harm public waters and threatened and endangered species,” an OSPC document states.

The Oregon Board of Forestry is accepting comments on this issue from the public though 5 p.m. March 1, asking for wider buffers.

Comments should be addressed to: Private Forest SSBT Rulemaking, Oregon Department of Forestry, 2600 State Street, Oregon 97310; or send to or via fax 503-945-7490.

By Stephanie Haugen
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times
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State News Release: Governor Brown Proposes Elliott State Forest Plan to Retain Public Ownership, Protect the Common School Fund

NEWS RELEASE by Governor Kate Brown, State of Oregon

February 10, 2017

Media Contact:
Bryan Hockaday, 503-580-7836

Governor Brown Proposes Elliott State Forest Plan to Retain Public Ownership, Protect the Common School Fund

(Ontario, OR) — Governor Kate Brown today announced a plan for Oregon’s Elliott State Forest in advance of the Feb. 14 State Land Board meeting. Governor Brown released the following statement:

“The Elliott State Forest was created in 1930, through consolidating tracts of Common School Fund forest land scattered across Oregon. Since the mid-1950s the Elliott has produced in excess of $400 million for Oregon schools. About 90 percent (82,500 acres) of the Elliott State Forest is owned by Oregon’s Common School Fund – a trust fund for K-12 public education that is overseen by the State Land Board as trustees.

“Since 2013, because of harvest limitations prompted by a lawsuit over federally protected species, owning the Elliott has cost the Common School Fund more than $4 million. We must change the way we own and manage the forest, ways that benefit Oregon’s schools and children for the long term.

“Oregon’s public lands – our forests, parks, and beaches – are irreplaceable assets. Even in the face of complicated challenges, we must strive to protect the values Oregonians hold dear.

“Today I propose my way forward for the Elliott, a plan I believe is in the best interest of future generations of Oregonians.

  • The Elliott is Oregon’s first State Forest, and has been a State Forest since 1930. Under my plan, the Elliott State Forest would remain in public ownership, with either the state or tribes owning the land.
  • A bond proposal would be developed to include up to $100 million in state bonding capacity to protect high value habitat, including riparian areas, steep slopes, and old growth stands. The investment will go into the Common School Fund and decouple a portion of the forest from the Common School Fund trust lands.
  • On the remainder of the forest, we will re-enter into negotiations with the Federal Services for a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that will allow for sustainable timber harvest while protecting endangered and threatened species. We expect that harvest to average about 20 million board feet per year over the long term – the next 100 years of this state forest’s history.
  • We hope to work with the tribes to regain ownership of their ancestral lands while protecting the Common School Fund.

“When the state adopted the protocol to sell the Elliott, there was no established value for the forest. Because we followed the protocol, we have an appraised value of $221 million.

“We know the Elliott is worth far more to Oregon’s children than $221 million. By investing in and protecting the highest quality habitat, areas where forest management is the most vulnerable to expensive and lengthy lawsuits, we are protecting marbled murrelets, owls, and coho salmon. At the same time, sustainable forestry management on the remainder of the land can generate continued financial returns for Oregon schools.

“We also know Oregon forests are a carbon sink, holding an estimated 3 billion tons of carbon. Growing trees is something the Elliott does well, and in public ownership the forest will help the state meet our climate goals. That, too, benefits Oregon’s school children, and all Oregonians for generations to come.”