Forestry, environmental interests reaffirm commitment to landmark deal; Portland Tribune Story

Portland Tribune
by Sam Stites
April 1, 2020

In letter to Brown, timber and conservationists say they’re still ready to work together to end decades of fighting


PMG FILE PHOTO - Gov. Kate Brown, Greg Miller (left) representing the forest industry, and Bob Van Dyk (right) of the Wild Salmon Center announce the landmark deal between the two sides at the Oregon Capitol on February 10.
PMG FILE PHOTO – Gov. Kate Brown, Greg Miller (left) representing the forest industry, and Bob Van Dyk (right) of the Wild Salmon Center announce the landmark deal between the two sides at the Oregon Capitol on February 10.

Representatives of Oregon’s timber industry and the state’s major environmental groups say they’re still committed to working together despite the Legislature’s failure to pass a bill upon which their landmark deal hinged upon.

On Tuesday, March 31, Gov. Kate Brown issued a statement after receiving a letter signed by the parties of the original February deal which some in Salem characterized as “historic” in terms of ending decades of legal fights and political battles.

“Two short months ago, with the goal of creating a better future for Oregon, the state’s forest industry and major environmental groups were able to find common ground in a historic collaboration,” Brown said. “Since then, all of our daily lives have changed dramatically, as our state has been dealing with the spread of COVID-19. Right now, my top priority is the safety and health of Oregonians. I am doing everything in my power to slow the spread of the virus and protect our front-line workers to keep people safe.”

The path toward a deal started when timber interests reached out to Brown in January to see if she’d be willing to mediate several listening sessions where both sides would air their grievances. They ended up coming to an agreement that included dropping all prospective ballot measures and legal action relating to Oregon’s forests. The memorandum of understanding signed by several of Oregon’s largest timber companies and family woodland owners stated both sides would take part in the creation of a new habitat conservation plan that would rule over all Oregon’s forests, public and private. It also provided that the deal would be contingent upon the Legislature passing a bill to reform aerial spraying practices and create a cutting-edge notification system to allow neighbors to learn about spraying in real time.

The deal was seen by many as the first step in healing some of the old wounds that were left open from Oregon’s timber wars in the early 90s.

As the Republican walkout loomed in the final days of the 2020 Legislative Session, it seemed the aerial spraying bill was dead, effectively killing the deal too.

But on March 25, signatories of the agreement issued a letter to Brown reaffirming their commitment to work together and keep the deal alive.

“As key members of the negotiation that produced the MOU, we have consulted with our

stakeholders and heard a clear commitment to the MOU’s goals for new pesticide rules,

spray notification, and for broader mediation to address forest practice reforms,” the letter said. “But the urgency of the coronavirus pandemic has understandably overtaken our collective

ability to carry this work forward in the immediate term.”

The letter went on to say that all parties would continue to assist in the effort to withdraw ballot initiatives from the elections process, a key piece of the deal which was unclear how it would be affected by the failed legislative session.

Brown said in her statement Tuesday that she’s also committed now more than ever to continue the work started in February, but only after concerns around the ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus begin to calm.

“I am pleased to have the partnership of industry and advocates to achieve the original goals of the memorandum of understanding, including legislation, as soon as circumstances allow for this very important work to resume,” Brown said. “I, too, remain committed to our collective goals and to the long-term health of our state. Oregonians want healthy forests and fish, a vibrant forest sector, and prosperous rural communities, and I appreciate the continued collaboration to make this happen.”

The letter sent to Brown from the parties of the original deal was signed by the two spokesmen from either side: Bob Van Dyk of the Wild Salmon Center; and Greg Miller representing the forest industry.

Here’s a full list of signatories on the agreement:

Timber

Campbell Global

Greenwood Resources

Hampton Lumber

Hancock NR Group

Lone Rock Resources

Oregon Small Woodlands Assn.

Pope Resources

Port Blakely

Roseburg Forest Products

Seneca Sawmill Co.

Starker Forests

Stimson Lumber

Weyerhaeuser

Environmental

Audubon Society of Portland

Beyond Toxics

Cascadia Wildlands

Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center

Northwest Guides and Anglers Assn.

Oregon League of Conservation Voters

Oregon Stream Protection Coalition

Oregon Wild

Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s

Associations

Rogue Riverkeeper

Trout Unlimited

Umpqua Watersheds

Wild Salmon Center

Governor Kate Brown Announces Continued Agreement on Science-Based Forest Management

Press Release from Governor Kate Brown:

March 31, 2020

Timber and environmental groups reinforce their commitment to February pact brokered by Governor Brown

Salem, OR—Governor Kate Brown today issued the following statement on receiving a reaffirmation of commitment from forest industry and environmental groups to work together on a science-informed policy development process related to forest practice laws and regulations.

In February, the signatories to the original memorandum of understanding agreed to drive a process to update the state’s timber practices balancing habitat and working in the woods, with the mutual goals of meeting the standards of endorsement from federal wildlife agencies; passing legislation on aerial spraying of pesticides to enhance spray buffer zones and notification practices; expanding stream buffers for salmon, steelhead, and bull trout streams; and sustaining Oregon’s critical forest products industries. Both sides agreed to drop all forestry-related initiative petitions and related litigation after passage of updated legislation addressing the areas of contention.

“Two short months ago, with the goal of creating a better future for Oregon, the state’s forest industry and major environmental groups were able to find common ground in a historic collaboration,” said Governor Brown. “Since then, all of our daily lives have changed dramatically, as our state has been dealing with the spread of COVID-19. Right now, my top priority is the safety and health of Oregonians. I am doing everything in my power to slow the spread of the virus and protect our front-line workers to keep people safe.

“Now we’re going to need to work together more than ever. I am pleased to have the partnership of industry and advocates to achieve the original goals of the memorandum of understanding, including legislation, as soon as circumstances allow for this very important work to resume.

“I, too, remain committed to our collective goals and to the long-term health of our state. Oregonians want healthy forests and fish, a vibrant forest sector, and prosperous rural communities, and I appreciate the continued collaboration to make this happen.”

###

Oregon Timber Pact Holds Promise for Salmon; Story by Wild Salmon Center

Timber industry, conservation groups, including Wild Salmon Center, sign promising agreement to pursue more effective forest practices on private lands in Oregon.

Today, Governor Kate Brown announced a new path of cooperation between the timber industry and conservation groups including Wild Salmon Center. Memorandum of Understanding between a dozen Oregon timber companies and an equal number of conservation groups includes new rules on aerial pesticide spraying, new protections for streams in the Rogue-Siskiyou region of Southwest Oregon, and a new framework for developing comprehensive protections for salmon and other endangered species that depend on clean, cold water throughout the state.

Wild Salmon Center has been working for more than 20 years to update forest policies across the state, to ensure salmon have clean, cold water and adequate habitat for spawning and rearing. Now, WSC has signed on to this agreement, in the belief that it provides a potentially better pathway for protecting Oregon’s salmon and steelhead runs and adapting to a changing climate. (Here’s a a primer on the pact, with highlights and further context.)

After today’s agreement, the Oregon Legislature will take up a package that includes new provisions on aerial pesticide spray, Rogue-Siskiyou stream rules, and support for a comprehensive habitat protection plan.

Governor Kate Brown and WSC’s Bob Van Dyk.

Wild Salmon Center’s Bob Van Dyk, who has worked on Oregon forest policy for two decades, said this today at the Capitol:

  • “It’s a great privilege to be here today as a party to this announcement.
  • Almost twenty years ago, Oregon’s forest laws diverged from our neighbors in Washington State. Washington State worked through a difficult but collaborative process to reform their forest laws.The process resulted in major changes to better conserve wild salmon and clean water, while giving the timber industry more regulatory certainty.
  • In Oregon we never developed that critical mass for compromise. Instead, we argued in front of the Board of Forestry. We filed lawsuits. We fought over legislation. Wild Salmon Center and the many signers of the MOU today have been at the heart of these 20 years of struggleThe result has been a lack of trust, gridlock on forest policy, and growing citizen demand for better forest rules to protect people, clean water, and fish and wildlife.
  • Today we are starting a new approach. The MOU signed today, and the companion legislation on aerial spray of pesticides, are taking a similar path to that in Washington State. It is a path of collaboration toward the stronger conservation measures our groups seek, and toward the certainty the forest industry needs.
  • For many of the people and organizations in the conservation community who signed this MOU, this new approach is unfamiliar and unsettling. Pursue legislation in partnership with the industry? Should we do that? It is a good question. As Mark Twain wrote, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” On reflection, we have decided it is worth trying something new.
  • I want to acknowledge that this isn’t easy for anyone. The immediate reforms announced today on aerial spray, together with the improvements to rules protecting the Rogue region, are a real and meaningful step by the forest products industry in a new direction. And then on to more difficult steps, working toward a Habitat Conservation Plan for Oregon’s forests.
  • Of course the prospects for this effort are uncertain, as are most ambitious undertakings.  But our agreement today is the right start.
  • I want to end by thanking the Governor and her team for helping to convene this conversation, and for the support she has expressed for the result. It truly would not have happened without her.”

Wild Salmon Center President and CEO Guido Rahr, who has also been working to reform Oregon forest policy for two decades, had these comments:

  • “Two of Oregon’s greatest treasures are its wild fish and wild rivers, and Western Oregon rivers hold the greatest concentrations of healthy wild salmon and steelhead stocks remaining south of Canada. Science clearly tells us that we need to modernize our forest practices in Oregon, to properly protect these rivers and streams and the wild fish that call them home
  • We’ve spent many years fighting about salmon and clean water. But today we’re demonstrating shared values around protecting the things that make Oregon awesome. Today, we are plotting a new cooperative path to update timber practices and protect salmon. We firmly believe we can get better results this way. I want to applaud this new spirit of collaboration. I want to thank the Governor for stewarding this agreement. I want to also acknowledge the long, hard work of our staff, particularly Bob Van Dyk, to bring about this agreement. And we need to thank the citizens and communities throughout Oregon that have spoken up in favor of new protections.
  • There’s still much work to be done to secure needed habitat protection for salmon. But after today’s announcement I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to complete that journey together.”

View full press conference.

Photo by Emily Vaughan-Klickman/Crag Law Center

Oregon environmental groups, timber companies strike ‘extraordinary’ compromise, signaling end to November ballot fight; Oregonian Story

The Oregonian
by Rob Davis and Ted Sickinger

 

A clearcut in the Oregon Coast Range. (File/The Oregonian)Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

Timber companies and conservation groups have agreed to stand down from their divisive and potentially expensive ballot measure fight over Oregon’s logging rules, striking a compromise that sets the stage for the biggest changes to Oregon’s logging practices in decades.

The agreement, a copy of which was obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive, calls for state lawmakers to immediately pass tighter restrictions on aerial herbicide spraying, which legislators punted in 2015. The new restrictions would quintuple the size of no-spray buffers around homes and schools, widen them around streams and require logging companies to provide one-day notice to neighbors before helicopters start spraying.

If that passes, both the timber companies and environmental groups agreed to halt efforts to push dueling ballot measures in November.

“I would describe this as historic, unprecedented and extraordinary,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who helped broker the deal, told The Oregonian/OregonLive. “The commitment is very clear and the agreement frankly brings both sides together. This is a paradigm shift.”

Thirteen timber companies and 13 environmental groups signed the compromise, which calls for a groundbreaking negotiation that could remake forestry on private land in Oregon. Over the next 18 months, timber companies and green groups would work in mediated meetings toward developing a conservation blueprint to ensure logging practices on private industrial timberlands allow salmon and other species to come back from the brink of extinction.

That would give logging companies protection from litigation if their actions harm an endangered species in exchange for solid conservation commitments.

The negotiations, governed by a long list of ground rules, would aim to develop new rules for the 2022 legislative session and begin the process of seeking needed federal approval.

Brown said she expected the process to result in “a significant rewrite” of the Oregon Forest Practices Act, the state’s logging rules. She said she was confident the aerial spraying legislation would pass during the Legislature’s month-long short session and pledged her commitment to shepherding the longer-term deal to fruition.

“No one thought this could be done,” Brown said. “And we are making it happen because people are tired of the endless wars at the ballot and in the courtroom.”

There is no guarantee the legislation will pass or the talks will succeed. But the agreement is a step toward resolving the conflicts over logging rules that have played out at the Board of Forestry, the Legislature and in courts for decades and soon on the November ballot. Signatories included timber companies like Weyerhaeuser, Hampton Lumber and Roseburg Forest Products, and environmental groups including Oregon Wild, the Wild Salmon Center and Beyond Toxics.

While Oregon in 1971 became the first state in the nation to adopt comprehensive logging rules, the state has since fallen far behind its neighbors. Today, the state’s logging rules are the West Coast’s weakest, allowing timber companies to cut more aggressively than in California and Washington.

Frustrated by legislative inaction in a state where timber gives more to lawmakers than anywhere else, environmental groups led by Oregon Wild pushed three ballot initiatives this year to tighten aerial herbicide spraying rules, increase forest stream buffers, prohibit logging in steep landslide-prone areas and prohibit conflicts of interest for state forestry board appointees.

Timber companies quickly punched back. The Oregon Forest & Industries Council proposed initiatives that would have expanded industry control over the state’s forest regulator, the Oregon Department of Forestry, while amending the state constitution to require compensation for any landowner financially affected by any land-use change. The constitutional change held the power to remake Oregon’s land-use system.

But both sides blinked. Timber companies approached Brown’s office to negotiate a compromise. The hastily negotiated deal announced Monday offers more certainty for both the timber industry and environmental community than leaving their differences to be decided by voters. It still leaves an uncertain path toward the larger deal, one that will require people who are deeply distrustful of each other to negotiate in good faith.

Greg Miller, a retired Weyerhaeuser executive speaking on behalf of the timber companies, said the deal signaled “a new era of cooperation and transparency” while calling for forest policy to “continue to rely on the best available science.”

“We are hopeful that we have found a pathway forward that meets those expectations and sets Oregon up for the most comprehensive, forward-thinking forest policy in the nation,” Miller said in a statement.

Environmental groups also lauded the deal. Bob Van Dyk, Oregon policy director at the Wild Salmon Center, called it “a critical step toward modernizing Oregon’s forest rules.”

“It’s our collective duty to make sure that a healthy timber industry doesn’t come at the expense of fish, wildlife, and public health,” Van Dyk said.

The changes to aerial spraying are a significant initial concession from the timber industry, which helped kill a similar proposal in 2015. Companies use helicopter sprays to help kill the plants that compete for sunlight with seedlings replanted after clearcuts. More than 800,000 pounds of herbicides were sprayed on forestland in 2008, the last year Oregon required amounts to be reported.

The practice comes with risks. Aerial spraying can allow toxic chemicals like glyphosate, 2,4-D and atrazine to drift long distances or get into waterways that serve as drinking water sources. Twenty Curry County residents complained of illnesses in 2013 after a helicopter pilot flew over their neighborhood while spraying herbicides on clear cuts, misting homes in his path.

Oregon’s timber industry has long known it was vulnerable if aerial spraying restrictions went to the ballot. Voters in Lincoln County approved an aerial spray ban in 2017, despite being outspent 20-to-one. (The ban was subsequently overturned in court.)

The industry polled 500 likely voters in the other coastal counties in 2018 and found them “very susceptible” to the idea of banning aerial pesticide spraying — despite the voters’ widespread support of logging.

A two-page memo obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive and Oregon Public Broadcasting, summarizing an internal May 2018 poll, shows that polling found voters with family members employed in the timber industry opposed helicopter spraying at the same rate as voters overall.

Even when given context about why the chemicals were used, the polling showed, between 55 and 57 percent of likely voters still thought it put the environment at risk and spread harmful chemicals through the air and water, compared to about 33 percent who thought it was good, necessary to help young trees grow.

While coastal communities are more conservative than the rest of Oregon, the poll noted, those voters chose protecting the environment over creating local jobs.

One of the ballot measures backed by the environmental groups would have established a 500-foot aerial spraying buffer on all waters in the state. Timber companies worried that would be an effective ban on all aerial spraying in many areas. The legislation doesn’t go that far. But it does increase setbacks for sprays near homes and schools to 300 feet (from 60), establishes stricter setbacks on drinking water intakes and boosts the minimum buffer on streams with fish from 60 feet to 75.

It would also establish 50-foot aerial spraying buffers on all headwater streams — waterways that don’t have fish but that feed into streams and rivers that do. Those headwater streams comprise a majority of Oregon’s stream network. No buffers exist for them currently.

A copy of the agreement between the timber industry and environmental groups is here.

 

Opinion: Our forests’ future depends on our working together; Oregonlive

By Guest Columnist Peter Hayes
Jan. 8, 2020
Oregonlive

Hayes and his family own and care for Hyla Woods in the Oregon Coast Range. Hayes served on the Oregon Board of Forestry from 2007 to 2011.

For how many decades have Oregonians opened the newspaper and read of our fellow citizens in conflict over forest-related issues? Debate over our proper relationships to forests is not only inevitable but also healthy, when handled well. But the nature, form and tenor of these tensions and conflicts have changed.

These conflicts – whether it is the future of the Elliott State Forest, the Oregon Department of Forestry’s challenges, state forest litigation, implications of pending climate legislation – are more numerous and paralyzing than ever before. They involve increasingly complex considerations, including the role of climate, water and wildlife. And when we most need to count on democratic processes and functional government to help us resolve these issues, our state and federal governments seem incapable of doing what we rely on them to do – develop common ground on which solutions can be built. So we find ourselves fighting our battles through litigation, initiatives and protests and making it nearly impossible for the Department of Forestry to function.

As a multigenerational forest and sawmill owner I see that these problems demand that we work together. We can and must take action to create a better path, with six principles to guide us:

  • It is time to acknowledge that the forest-related conflicts listed above are symptoms of a culture wrestling with a pair of fundamental questions – “What is a forest for?” and “How will we build enough common ground to allow us to move beyond this dangerously divided situation?” Whether it is in the board room, court room, voting booth, protest barricade or the cab of a log truck circling the Capitol honking in protest, the underlying questions are the same.
  • Oregonians must become better informed, more engaged with, and more vocal about our forests and their future.  To do this we must dig beneath the deliberately deceptive illusions propagated by vested interests, to better understand the circumstance, issues and choices.
  • We must accept that responsible forest stewardship, public and private, depends on us shifting from seeing and treating forests as commodities belonging to us to seeing them as communities within which we, as members, have responsibilities.
  • It is time for us to tell elected and appointed officials that we expect them to become knowledgeable about and take effective leadership on forest issues. As a former member of the Board of Forestry, I see that government will only fairly lead on forest issues once the corrupting power of corporate campaign donations have been removed.
  • We must join in imagining and creating better approaches to forestry that are climate smart, water wise, fire adapted and that support the vitality of rural communities through a reliable forest economy. Many of us have worked for decades to test and show what forests can be for by moving beyond timber-centric models to create economically viable, multi-value forests.  We have many structures, including watershed councils and forest collaboratives, that demonstrate our ability to build powerful bridges to heal this divided world; we can and must make better use of them.
  • And finally, we must acknowledge that forests have been, are, and will always be central to the heart, soul, and character of this state and its citizens. Responsible, innovative forest stewardship must be a cornerstone of our vision of our shared future. As Northwesterners step up to meet the interwoven challenges of climate, water, and too little rural opportunity, we should better harness our most unique superpower – our forests’ underutilized potential to help meet these challenges.

When we care for Oregon forests with respect and a long-term vision, we know that they will sustain us. At the same time that we, as a species, are at a critical decision point in relation to the earth’s climate, Oregonians face the choice of whether we will rise above our differences to build the common ground needed to live compatibly with forests and one another in the long run.

Guest View: The real cause of division in communities: The Register-Guard

The Register Guard

GUEST VIEW
By David Eisler
Jan. 7, 2020

Amanda Astor ends her recent column with “Better understanding of forests and the science behind decision making can bring our community closer and tear down divisions and alarmist narratives.”

Apparently she believes that scientists’ and community members’ concerns about the impacts of industrial logging are alarmist and have no basis in fact. Astor would have us all simply accept timber companies public relations and we should all get along just fine living with high-impact clearcutting, aerial herbicide spraying, moncrop plantations and the decimation of forest and aquatic ecosystems.

So, let’s be clear about what seems to be the cause of division in the communities.

Astor correctly points out that there are many approaches to forest management used by private forestland owners. It is the management model used by large corporate landowners and timber investment management organizations, often Wall Street-based, which place value on the highest financial return for stockholders.

This management model depends on the conversion of older, healthy biodiverse and resilient forests into monocrop Douglas fir plantations that cover vast expanses of the landscape. It is the impacts — including herbicide drift onto neighboring properties and water systems, steep slope landslides, runoff sediments clogging salmon spawning streams— that create tension, division and Astor’s “alarmist narratives.”

Plantations are not “ forests.” Forests are composed of interacting communities of plants and animals that develop over long periods of time. A plantation is no more a “forest” than a 100-acre corn crop is a meadow or prairie. The complex processes that drive the development of healthy forests are increasingly well understood by researchers at Oregon State University’s Forest Ecosystems and Society program.

Astor perpetuates the industry myth that clearcutting, burning off all residual woody material, several years of herbicide spraying and the planting of Douglas fir seedlings genetically selected for fast growth eight feet apart, somehow mimics natural disturbances such as fire or insect infestations. Scientific research has not supported this industrial narrative myth.

Any industry that has shareholder profits as its primary objective needs to convince the public that there are no environmental or human health impacts from their management, The tobacco industry put profits before truth for decades. The mining companies in Appalachia claimed to put worker safety before profits. The gasoline industry claimed that adding lead was necessary.

The timber industry has a narrative that serves their interests including softening words like “clearcutting” to “regeneration harvests” or “overstory removal” and overusing the word “sustainable” to suggest maintaining healthy forests instead of planting seedlings to replace trees to sustain timber volume into the future.

If Astor and other industry foresters would like to educate us in the “science of decision making,” we might come to understand why clearcutting cycles are shortening to 30 years and why it is necessary to apply fertilizer to depleted soils and why the cost and impacts of aerial herbicide spraying is economically worth the risks to human health, water quality and wildlife.

The narrative that industry lobbying groups have painted is a picture of clean water, abundant wildlife and “forests” forever, the “everything-is-just-great-folks” narrative.

While we may enjoy relatively cheap lumber prices in the short run, the industry model of high-impact logging passes along the costs of the impacts to all Oregonians.

Yes, the companies follow state laws, but with the help of a powerful lobby in Salem and a Board of Forestry dominated by industry interests, the Forest Practices Act has held off meaningful changes since 1972.

The “alarmists” and “divisions” Astor refers to are based on decades of communities directly experiencing the results of industrial forestry. Communities like Gold Beach where dozens of lives were irreversibly impacted by forestry herbicides and Rockaway Beach where municipal water now has cancer-causing chemicals, have every right to feel the divisions and expect something better from their industrial neighbors.

David Eisler, Ph.D, is a retired anthropologist. He has actively managed forest land in the Coast Range for 40 years. He was a founding board member of the Siuslaw Watershed Council and was a founding member of the Siuslaw National Forest’s collaborative Stewardship Group.

Not logging some Northwest forests could mitigate climate change, OSU study says: Statesman Journal article

By Tracey Loew
Statesman Journal
Dec. 9, 2019

A new study from Oregon State University recommends preserving, rather than logging, most forests in the Oregon and Washington Coast and Cascade mountain ranges.

Doing so could mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration and enhance biodiversity, according to the study, published Dec. 4 in the journal “Ecological Applications.”

“We are in the midst of a climate crisis and a biodiversity crisis,” said Beverly Law, a study author and professor in OSU’s Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. “Preserving these forests is one of the greatest things we can do in our region of North America to help on both fronts.”

Not logging the forests, which also include pockets in the northern Rocky Mountains, would be the carbon dioxide equivalent of halting 8 years of fossil fuel burning in the 11 western states, the scientists found.

“Smart land management can mitigate the effects of climate-induced ecosystem changes to biodiversity and watersheds, which influence ecosystem services that play a key role in human well-being,” said Polly Buotte, a study author and postdoctoral researcher.

The five-year study was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The other study authors are OSU forestry professor William Ripple, and Logan Berner, of EcoSpatial Services in Flagstaff, Arizona.Get the Daily Briefing newsletter in your inbox.

The researchers analyzed forests in the western United States to simulate potential carbon sequestration through the 21st century.

They identified forests with high carbon sequestration potential, low vulnerability to drought and fire, and high biodiversity value. They were mostly older, intact forests with high structural diversity.

“Preservation of high carbon density Pacific Northwest forests that are also economically valuable for timber production will have costs and benefits to consider, including socioenvironmental benefits, the feasibility of preservation, and opportunity costs harvest,” the authors wrote in the peer-reviewed article.

Oregon Forest & Industries Council President Kristina McNitt declined to comment on the study Monday.

The timber-industry trade group has criticized a previous study by Law, Berner and others, which concluded that timber harvest is the leading source of carbon emissions in Oregon.

The forest council said the earlier study failed to account for reforestation, which the timber industry does after harvest.

Testimony to the Board of Forestry about Siskiyou Streamside Protections

BEFORE THE OREGON BOARD OF FORESTRY
Statement of Mary Scurlock, Oregon Stream Protection Coalition
Agenda Item 3: Siskiyou Streamside Protections Review
8 January 2019

Timely Degradation Finding Regarding Stream Tempreature as Priority. Our priority is for this Board to reach a final decision about the sufficiency of the current water protection rules with respect to stream temperature in the Siskiyou based on all available relevant information, including the expanded literature review. It would be ideal to decide the sufficiency of the rules to meet “desired future condition” at the same time, but not if alignment requires delay of a decision on stream temperature. We urge the Board to establish July 2020 as a firm date to decide whether resource degradation is occurring in the Siskiyou under current rules.

Climate Change Should Be Considered Without Delaying A Degradation Decision. We believe that available information on climate change is important contextual information that should be incorporated into the Siskiyou analysis, but that a 9 to 12 month project is not required to provide this information to the Board. We hope that you can find a way to scale back Option 1 to focus on the three identified information sources (the NorWest model, Spies et. al. 2018 and the Southwest Oregon Adaptation Partnership) in a way that fits within a hard July 2020 decision point. Your direction can clarify that consideration of this information in no way shifts the focus of your decision away from the discrete impacts of current forest practices on stream temperature.

Climate Change Option 2 creates a false tradeoff by for the Board. Option 2 outlines a policy analysis and development project that ODF (and other state agencies) may well find both necessary and valuable, but it does not belong in this Siskiyou Stream Rules review. We do not think that pursuing this or a similar policy development option should have any direct bearing on the conduct of the Siskiyou rules analysis, nor should it burden the Department’s limited effectiveness monitoring budget.

Project Charter (Attachment 2): This is a useful format to convey project scope. We have a few concerns:

• We suggest attaching a timeline, including past milestones.
• The outcome of the ODF-DEQ collaboration is described as a “process for aligning agencies’
sufficiency reviews.” Does this mean the result is simply a process for future alignment, or can we expect to accomplish actual alignment within the context of the Siskiyou rule review? When will the parties get beyond the current stage of “clarifying” their respective legal and policy authorities and mandates and finalizing statements of intent?
• We suggest that the description of monitoring options in the charter be amended to clarify how final decisions about how and whether to proceed will be made;
• The landowner-controlled regional committees are listed as “interested parties” that will be represented on the Siskiyou Advisory Committee but these committees do not actually represent a separate stakeholder group from forest landowners, who are already recognized. We suggest that it may be more appropriate to include county governments, local watershed councils or water providers as interested parties.

Committee Objectives (Attachment 3). We appreciate that the purposes of the committee have been clarified and that the Department recognizes the importance of prioritizing inclusion of Siskiyou region members and the use of in-region locations as budgets allow.

Forest Waters Campaign Update

Hello from the Oregon Forest Waters coalition!

We are making excellent progress in our campaign to protect forest waters in Oregon through ballot measures. Our forest water measures will update forest management practices, improve habitat for fish and wildlife, and increase the resilience of our forests in the face of climate change.

The three measures – Initiative Petitions 45, 46, and 47 – were filed in October by concerned Oregonians to put the vote on the ballot for this year’s election. The aim is to increase protections for water in Oregon’s forests up to the level of Washington State.

We’re hearing support from people around the state, and our polling is strong. Plus, we’ve been getting a lot of coverage in the media.

Another sign that we’re off to a good start: Logging interests have responded with ballot measures of their own. And, no surprise, they’re already resorting to extremist rhetoric despite the fact that our proposals largely follow the standards of neighboring states. Our proposals are reasonable, feasible, and long overdue.

This will be a challenge, as is always the case when taking on the logging industry in Oregon, but one that is shaping up to break the stranglehold that the logging industry has exercised on environmental policy in Oregon for too long.

Here are four quick updates on the campaign and a way you can help.

4 quick updates

1.  Our refiled Initiative Petitions have final titles and they are strong.

The forest waters coalition resubmitted three initiative petitions on October 2, 2019 (IP 45, 46, and 47). Please take a look at the titles

IP 45:  Expands area around forest waterbodies where aerial pesticides are prohibited and where logging operations limited

IP 46:  Expands area around forest waterbodies where aerial pesticide spraying prohibited; increases notice requirements for spraying

IP 47:  Expands to 50/100 feet the area around waterbodies where commercial logging operations limited; exceptions

As expected, the logging industry – who have opposed the measures all along – appealed these titles to the Oregon Supreme Court. The Attorney General will defend the titles, and the chief petitioners will submit amicus briefs to the Court.

2. The logging industry is pursuing three measures of their own. Please consider taking a look at them as well.

IP 53:  A Constitutional Amendment that will require taxpayers to pay landowners when laws protect public values – like buffers for rivers and streams – without any exceptions for public health, safety.

IP 54:  Statutory measure to block voter’s and legislature’s ability to change forest laws.

IP 55:  Statutory measure to change the board of forestry to increase the number of logging interests on the board.

One of these cynical measures received its final ballot title on Monday, January 13. The other one was rejected on single-subject grounds. The third will have a final title assigned on January 17. The current titles for IP 54 and 55 expose the brazen attempt by the logging industry to rig the rules in their favor and put corporate interests ahead of the public good.

3. New climate study underscores the need for forest protections

Oregon State University researchers published a wake-up call study on December 4. The OPB headline says it all:  “Study Finds Not Logging Some Northwest Forests Could Offset Climate Change.”

Study authors analyzed forests across the country that could prove most critical in storing carbon pollution and found that Oregon – especially the Cascades and Coast Range – is filled with forests deemed a high priority for protection. The forest waters initiatives aim to protect these carbon-storing forests near waterways across the state, while also protecting our clean water and wildlife.

4. People and groups are getting involved. What’s next?  

Our chief petitioners for the forest waters initiatives are local people who have been directly impacted by industrial logging. Kate Crump is a coastal resident and fishing guide who knows firsthand how industrial logging in Oregon harms drinking water and fish habitat. Micha Elizabeth Gross is co-owner of Myrtle Glen Farms in Coos County, where Oregon’s lax buffers around streams have damaged her drinking source water. Vik Anantha is a conservation advocate and outdoor enthusiast who has seen our coastal forests rapidly converted to industrial tree farms.

Public health and conservation groups from across the state are supporting the effort of local residents to put one of these measures before the voters. Some of the organizations involved are: Beyond Toxics, Cascadia Wildlands, Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Native Fish Society, North Coast Communities for Watershed Protection, Oregon Wild, Pacific Rivers, Portland Audubon, and Wild Salmon Center. The petitioners are gearing up to begin the volunteer portion of their signature gathering drive.

We would like your help and involvement! 

We still have a few things to wrap up before we bring the forest waters initiative to the ballot. So far we have met or exceeded the goals we set for ourselves. For example, our:

  • Experiments with signature gathering show we can collect what we need very quickly.
  • Opinion research shows a growing majority of Oregonians support the forest waters initiatives, with 70% in support.
  • Fundraising efforts show major donors are willing to invest in the potential campaign.

We are working now to line up your group, your members, and individual volunteers to be prepared with petitions to help gather signatures. We will be ready to go just as soon as the Supreme Court challenge is completed.

Here’s how you can help.

Please make a pledge to collect signatures to qualify our measures for the ballot!  We need 112,020 valid signatures (and a cushion to be safe), and you or your group can help! We can provide the signature sheets and training to your teams, and we will take the sheets when complete and validate the signatures and conduct the turn-in.

We need you to make our goal! Can you commit to collecting 1,000 signatures? How about 2,500? Send us an email to let us know if you can help gather signatures.

We value your input 

The forest waters initiatives have been designed with extensive feedback from community organizations, conservation groups, landowners, small family foresters, and neighbors living with the impacts of industrial forestry. As we work to make history by passing the first significant modernization of Oregon’s forest water laws we need your help and your best ideas. Please email us at info@forestwaters.org with your thinking, and we will be in touch!

Failing Forestry: Board puts state forester on notice – performance improvement required: Oregonlive article

Oregonlive
by Ted Sickinger
December 7, 2019

The Oregon Board of Forestry has put Peter Daugherty, the state forester, on a performance improvement plan to address dysfunctional relationships with some board members, poor communication with the board at large and concerns over the agency’s financial condition.

In a Oct. 30 letter to Daugherty, board chair Tom Imeson said the plan stemmed from a discussion the board had after its retreat on Oct. 9. He said the recommendations for corrective action were endorsed by the entire board and the governor’s office.

Tensions between board members, the department and Daugherty have been evident for some time, particularly those members appointed to bring a conservation voice to the board: retired businessman James Kelly, fish biologist Cindy Williams and retired Oregon State University forestry professor Brenda McComb.

The three have frequently expressed frustration with the agency’s lack of responsiveness to their requests for information and that their concerns on specific issues were ignored. The board’s increasing dysfunction spilled into an open and emotional discussion at the Oct. 9 retreat, and Daugherty acknowledged some of the problems there.

Daugherty responded Friday in an emailed statement.

“I take all board feedback seriously, particularly when it has recommendations for improvement,” he wrote. “This review is an opportunity to work with the board to improve relationships within the board as well as between the board, the department and our stakeholders.”

The agency has remained mired in numerous struggles during Daugherty’s tenure, which began in 2016. For the last several months, it has been trying to address an acute cash flow crisis due to uncollected costs from large wildfires. The issue is significant enough to threaten the agency’s solvency, and it has only been able to keep the doors open by borrowing from Treasury, raiding its own reserves and having the Department of Administrative Services cover its payroll costs.

Simultaneously, agency leaders have been striving to develop a new management plan for state forests, one that can stabilize the finances of the division while winning support among both conservation and timber interests. The agency released a draft of that plan this week, and initial feedback from the timber industry, environmental groups and rural counties was not good.

Agency leaders have also been under the gun to respond to two major lawsuits. One just ended with a $1.1 billion jury verdict against the agency for failing to maximize logging revenues on state forests. The other remains in the discovery phase, but seeks to stop 68 planned timber sales that environmental groups contend threaten endangered salmon.

Imeson’s letter acknowledged that the department was dealing with multiple challenges at once, and called the position of state forester “one of the most difficult jobs in state government.” He said Daugherty has effectively led the agency’s firefighting efforts, and that his “loyalty to the department, its people and its programs is unquestioned.”

It went on to say, however, that the broad set of perspectives individual board members brought to the job should be a valuable asset to the department.

“It is critical that each board member feel that their contributions are valued, their request for information are heeded and their concerns are addressed,” Imeson wrote. “At this moment not all board members feel that way. Individual discussions with each board member are imperative to reset the relationship as necessary.”

The letter directed Daugherty to meet individually with each board member within 60 days to gather their perspectives, prepare an overview of the feedback, and deliver a plan detailing how he can work with the board “in a way that builds relationships, promotes consensus and effective and respectful governance. That action plan should be complete by February 15.”

The board also directed Daugherty to prepare a list of key agency stakeholders and develop a strategy to show his and the agency’s commitment to “meaningful and recurring dialogue with all of your stakeholders.”

Imeson called the financial management of the agency’s wildfire costs an issue “of paramount importance.” He acknowledged that Daugherty had informed the board on several occasions that the department was struggling with an outdated fire funding model. But Imeson said Daugherty failed to give them several vitally important facts, including how old some of the uncollected bills were; the sheer size of the $100 million-plus backlog; and that the agency had come perilously close to default on a line of credit on one or more occasions.

“This failure is unacceptable, getting in the way of the board’s responsibility to provide oversight and assistance.”

The same discussion came up at the Oct. 9 retreat, where several board members expressed their concerns that they were only learning the severity of the agency’s cash flow crisis by reading about it in The Oregonian/OregonLive.

The governor has since appointed a financial SWAT team and hired a consultant to help the agency dig out of its financial hole. Imeson’s letter directed Daugherty to work with them and deliver a plan to achieve a meaningful reduction in the uncollected fire costs, and develop a long-term solution to those funding problems.

“You may find that as you are following through on these expectations that you would benefit from a leadership coach,” the letter continued. “We support your working with the Department of Administrative Services to retain a leadership coach who can help you reflect and take action on the feedback you receive from board members and stakeholders.”

The board, which has the authority to hire and fire the state forester, will keep Daugherty on a fairly short leash. Imeson said he would schedule another board evaluation with Daugherty, most likely at the January 2020 meeting, and will require quarterly progress reviews through the year.

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