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.”

Guest Viewpoint: Forestry analysis must include all the facts

Forestry analysis must include all the facts

by Ernie Niemi
for the Register Guard

We’re tired of the bickering over logging. Tired of people talking past one another: “Logging is good!” “No, it’s bad!”

Let’s replace the rhetoric with facts. Compare the benefits of logging against the costs. If the facts show that the benefits exceed the costs, cut the trees down; if not, let them stand.

At a recent public meeting in Springfield, staff from the Oregon Board of Forestry said the board took this approach to develop a proposed rule that will restrict logging along the banks of some streams that are home to salmon, steelhead and bull trout. Current rules permit loggers to remove trees that otherwise would shade these streams, keeping the water cool. Without the shade, summertime stream temperatures become hot enough to harm fish.

The forestry staff described the process used to decide how much to restrict logging, and where. With assistance from citizens representing different points of view, the board first identified a wide range of alternatives with different levels of stream-side logging restrictions in different parts of the state. It then weighed the benefits and costs of each alternative, rejected those whose costs exceeded the benefits, and selected the alternative that offers the best net benefits.

Excellent! This sounds like a textbook approach for fact-based decision-making about complex issues.

Hoping to learn more, I asked the forestry staff if I could see the board’s benefit-cost information. They sent me a summary, contained in the report the board recently released in response to the state law that requires it to provide the public with a “comprehensive analysis” of the economic impact of the proposed rule.

What a disappointment. The board’s report (bit.ly/2l6iwXi) fully describes the costs of logging restrictions: reductions in timber production, timber jobs, and workers’ incomes. But nowhere in its 29 pages does it have a single word about the benefits. Not one.

The report has nothing about the benefits from leaving trees on stream banks to provide more shade to cool the water and boost salmon, steelhead and bull trout populations. It has nothing about the likelihood that restrictions on stream-side logging will reduce the amount of logging-related sediment in streams, which will be good for fish and improve the quality of drinking water supplies for numerous communities. There is nothing about the potential benefits for the outdoor recreation industry from healthier, cooler streams.

Rather than a “comprehensive analysis,” the board’s report contains nothing about the recent research by Oregon State University scientists that shows letting trees grow likely will increase stream flows in the summertime, when fish have critical needs. It has nothing about the positive impacts that would result when trees left unlogged grow larger by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Are these important omissions? Yes. Is there readily available information the board could have used to describe the benefits? Yes again.

The Bureau of Land Management, for example, recently produced data that compare the benefits and costs from reduced logging on the forestlands it manages in Lane County and throughout western Oregon. The result: The recreation and climate-change benefits, alone, exceed the costs by more than 4 to 1.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has estimated the benefits of reductions in stream sediment, and the Forest Service has estimated the benefits of increased stream flows. Economists at OSU have measured the positive impacts of unlogged forests on the value of nearby residential properties. And there’s lots more.

So how did the board produce a “comprehensive analysis” that isn’t? The report was prepared for the board by an economist trained to describe the proposed rule’s benefits as well as its costs. Why did he not do so? If its “comprehensive analysis” of the economic impacts ignores the benefits of logging restrictions, does this mean that the board also ignored them as it developed the proposed rule?

Was all that talk by the forestry staff about weighing benefits and costs a sham?

Getting good answers to these questions is especially important now, when The Register-Guard and other reputable news outlets carry unending stories about distortions of science and facts intended to protect big industries and allow them to continue degrading the environment.

Threats to fact-based government have never been acceptable. But in these times, when these threats are so extreme within the federal government, it is especially important to keep Oregon free of the corruption. Gov. Kate Brown should take a hard look at how this “comprehensive analysis” ignored half of the relevant facts. She should take a hard look to see if her appointees — the members of the Board of Forestry and the head of the Department of Forestry — have an unwavering commitment to fact-based government.

We all need reassurance that, in Oregon at least, facts matter.

Ernie Niemi is president of Natural Resource Economics Inc. in Eugene.

OSPC Media Advisory for JANUARY 30 Private Logging Rules Hearing in Portland

Download PDF version of media advisory

MEDIA ADVISORY

Contacts:          Mary Scurlock, 503.320.0712, mary.scurlock@comcast.net
                                Chris Smith, 505.795.2895, chris.smith.505@gmail.com

PRIVATE LOGGING RULES FACE HEARING JANUARY 30
Water Coalition Says Proposed Rules Fail to Protect Cold Water for Salmon

Portland, OR:  New stream protection rules proposed by the Oregon Board of Forestry are the subject of a final public information session and hearing in Portland on Monday, January 30 at Ecotrust from 4-7 p.m.   The State Forester will attend, and conservation and fishing representatives are expected to testify.

The Board is close to finalizing new logging rules to prevent stream warming because a major monitoring study found current rules allow logging of shade trees too close to fish-bearing streams to reliably comply with statewide limits on stream warming.  These limits are part of the state’s water quality standard for stream temperature developed to meet the federal Clean Water Act.

Adequate stream buffers are also important for a host of other ecological reasons and to protect public health by keeping chemicals used to treat clearcuts during replanting away from streams.

The proposed rules will apply to “small” and “medium” salmon, steelhead & bull trout streams on Western Oregon private lands, with the exception of those in the Siskiyou Region.

Although the rule change is heralded as the first improvement to stream protection standards in almost a quarter-century, conservation and fishing interests have serious concerns, including:

  • None of the buffer options effectively protects cold water and salmon
  • The new buffers should extend much farther upstream from reaches with salmon and steelhead
  • The Board had no compelling reason to exclude the Siskiyou region from the rule
  • The rule’s allowance for reduced stream protection for landowners most heavily affected (“equity relief”) sets too low an eligibility threshold.

It is the Board’s sworn legal duty to ensure Oregon’s logging rules meet the water quality standards that protect our public waterways and the valuable fisheries that rely on them,” said Mary Scurlock, Coordinator of the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition comprising 25 conservation and fishing groups.  “This rule simply does a little less harm than the status quo, which is not acceptable.”

Scurlock maintains that the Board should have crafted a rule that is consistent with its own scientific analysis and which prioritizes the public’s broad interest in clean water and salmon over the narrow economic interests of a single sector.   “This rule falls far short of what the water quality and fish experts at DEQ, EPA and NMFS were recommending.”

Chris Smith, leader of the North Coast Forest Coalition emphasized that the proposed rules still don’t come close to the stream protection standards in neighboring states: “Washington and California have thriving timber industries despite much stronger stream rules.  All we want is to protect water quality and fisheries for Oregonians, too.” 

SUMMARY OF THE RULE PROPOSAL

The rule provides for four buffer prescriptions. The two main ones are: “no harvest” and “partial cut” (aka “variable retention”).  Both options apply within 60 feet of small and 80 feet of medium “salmon, steelhead and bull trout” (SSBT) streams.  A third “north-sided” option applies only to stream reaches longer than 200 feet that run east-to-west.  However, some landowners who are impacted the most by the new rule will be allowed to use a fourth even less restrictive “equity exemption” option.

  1. No cut buffers of 60 and 80 feet on small and medium SSBT streams, respectively. The new buffers will extend upstream to the end of the unit on the mainstem stream, as defined in the rule.
  2. Partial cut buffers of 60 and 80 feet keep the small 20 foot no cut zone we have now and requires that more trees be left (measured in conifer and hardwood basal area) outside this area.
  • Because the Board directed that the unlogged trees be “well-distributed,” the rule requires that the basal area be calculated according to 500 foot lengths of stream instead of the 1000 feet now allowed, and the trees must be spread around within the outer 40 and 60 feet. For example, the rule establishes “floors” of 50% for the amount of total required basal area must be in the middle zone, with a 25% minimum in the outer zone.
  • Unlike current rules, both conifers and hardwoods are counted for basal area calculations on the theory that hardwoods also provide shade to streams.
  • The currently required minimum number of live conifers will also be calculated per 500 feet of stream. Trees need only be 8 inches in diameter to count, which is pretty small. (We did not succeed in getting a “largest tree” requirement).
  1. Smaller “north-sided” buffers on stream reaches that run in an east-west direction. A 40-foot no cut buffer is considered adequate on the north side of these stream reaches. The minimum length of stream to which such a prescription may apply is 200 feet – there is no maximum reach length.
  2. Equity Exemption Option. Landowners who will have 8% or more of their land affected by the new rule can use smaller buffers that will not protect coldwater.

OPB/JPR News Story: Oregon’s Updated Streamside Logging Rules Get A Chilly Response

Read the story on the OPB site


Cilde Grover is concerned how new rules to protect streams will affect her Brookings, Oregon tree farm.
Cilde Grover is concerned how new rules to protect streams will affect her Brookings, Oregon tree farm. Jes Burns, OPB/EarthFix

Cilde Grover braces herself with her cane as she ducks through a small arch in the pasture fence.

“Molly, come!” she calls out, as her dog bounds ahead and blurs into the forest in the misty distance.

Grover remembers wide open pastures on her family’s homestead near Brookings in Oregon’s southwestern-most corner. That was back in the 1950s and ‘60s, when she and her three sisters were growing up. But now the trees have the upper hand.

“I look around and I go ‘it’s closing in on me!’” she laughs, glancing around at the forest all around her.

Trees love it here and they grow fast. There are redwoods, myrtle and tan oak, but it’s mostly Douglas fir on the hills and in the pasture. As a tree farmer and member of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association Grover is always thinking about her trees.

“We sort of go back and forth trying to decide, do I take out big ones now and leave little ones and let them go? Or just take out little ones and let the big ones turn into bigger trees,” she explains, pointing to a stand in the old pasture that’s a mix of trees with different ages and heights.

While faced with these kinds of decisions, Grover’s also facing changes to Oregon forestry law.

The Oregon Board of Forestry is proposing a new streamside logging or “riparian zone” rule that would increase the protected areas around waters that are home to salmon, steelhead and bull trout. It also would require that more trees be left behind in these buffer zones to provide shade and keep the water cold. Salmon need cold water to thrive.

A short walk through the woods leads to Elk Creek. It’s not much wider than Molly is long. The dog splashes enthusiastically, paws deep.

Molly explores a stand of trees on Cilde Grover's tree farm in Brookings, Oregon.
Molly explores a stand of trees on Cilde Grover’s tree farm in Brookings, Oregon. Jes Burns, OPB/EarthFix

This is one of two streams on Grover’s 230-acre property that would be affected by the rule. She says the rule will disproportionately affect small woodland owners over industrial timber owners.

“There’s more streams down here on my part of the property than there is way off up the hill,” she says, looking past her property to a steep hillside owned by Green Diamond Resource Company.

Grover says small woodland owners are more likely to have salmon, steelhead and bull trout streams because their property generally lower and flatter.

The result of the rule change would be fewer trees available to harvest and sell.

Grover says she’s much more politically liberal than most small woodland owners she knows. And she also considers herself an environmentalist, naming off all the birds, plants and trees as she passes them on her property.

“But I also really have problems with idea that based on a small bit of science, you can take private people’s land out of production without any compensation for it,” she says.

‘Small bit of science’

The science Grover refers to is 12 years of research and analysis on Western Oregon streams.  It’s know as the RipStream study, and has been both domestically and internationally peer reviewed.

RipStream showed current stream protections on private timberland weren’t meeting the state’s own water quality standards. Brad Knotts of the Oregon Department of Forestry says humans aren’t allowed to increase a stream’s temperature by more than about a half degree Fahrenheit.

“The monitoring was showing [that] 40 percent of time, that was happening if someone harvested exactly to the current practices,” Knotts says.

Oregon coast coho juvenile in the Siletz Basin
Oregon coast coho juvenile in the Siletz Basin. Conrad Gowell, Native Fish Society

But here’s the rub for fish: the new rules being considered by the Board of Forestry won’t meet the standards either. They’re not nearly restrictive enough. And they’re not nearly as robust as the current stream buffer requirements in Washington or California.

Modeling done by ODF shows that to be reasonably certain logging won’t cause stream temperatures to exceed that half degree increase, there needs to be close to 100 foot no-cut buffers on either side of a waterway.

Currently Oregon only requires a 20-foot no-harvest buffer on either side of fish-bearing streams. And then depending on the size of the waterway, there is an additional 30- or 50-foot area that can be thinned.

The new rule would apply to fewer streams overall — a subset of the fish-bearing waterways in Oregon. It doesn’t change the no-cut buffer.  It does add 10 feet to the area that can be thinned.

“[The Board of Forestry] did not choose 100 ft. no-harvest buffers, they choose something short of that,” Knotts says.

That’s because the law say the cold water standard must be met “to the maximum extent practicable.”  This clause allows the Board to step away from the science and to consider factors like economics in these decisions as well.

The proposed rules is expected to eliminate about 75 jobs per year statewide and about a half percent of the total private land timber harvest.

Subset of a subset

The other concern for salmon advocates is the new rules wouldn’t even apply to most of the state. Eastern Oregon isn’t included, and neither is the Siskiyou region in Southern Oregon between Ashland and Klamath Falls.

In November, the Oregon Board of Forestry met in Ashland and got an earful from environmental groups in Southern Oregon.

Stacey Detwiler, with the conservation group Rogue Riverkeeper, told the board the mountains should not be excluded from the proposed rule.

“We remain significantly concerned that our region will be left with a less-protective standard,” she said.

Oregon coast coho in the Siletz Basin
Oregon coast coho in the Siletz Basin. Conrad Gowell, Native Fish Society

Earlier this year, the board decided to exclude the Siskiyou region because the original RipStream study was conducted along the Oregon coast.  Board members reasoned the results of that study could not be fairly applied to other regions.

Timber owners support that approach. Conservation groups disagree.

“I think that sometimes, this idea that we have a lack of science or that there’s some uncertainty is used by those who are against increased regulation as a stalling tactic,” said Mary Scurlock of the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition, a group of environmental and fishing industry organizations.

Scurlock says the existing science is robust. And, she says, further delay in a process that’s already gone on for over a decade just keeps threatened fish at risk.

“It’s simply there’s nowhere to go. I mean, you can’t hide from the amount of information, it’s so overwhelming,” she said.

At the November meeting, the Board of Forestry did direct staff to come up with ideas for how to develop appropriate rules for eastern Oregon and the Siskiyous. That’s expected in mid-2017.

Depending on the approach the board decides to take, it could be several more years before new protections are put in place there.

Feds: not enough

Environmentalists aren’t the only ones who think Oregon’s proposed streamside rule comes up short.

A new Oregon coastal coho salmon recovery plan, finalized earlier this month by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), lays out a path to removing the salmon from the federal Endangered Species List within 10 years. This would remove significant red tape for the state and private timber interests alike.

RELATED: Oregon Coastal Coho Salmon Could Be Stable Again In 10 Years: Feds

But the coho plan points directly to the lack of teeth in the Board of Forestry’s proposed expansion of stream protections as a potential roadblock to meeting this goal:

“If the proposal is not significantly strengthened, NMFS will still be concerned that it doesn’t provide adequate protections, especially for shade … Because the November 2015 proposed buffers are less than 90 feet and allow harvest within the RMA, the proposal is not likely to meet the water quality standard.”

While coho recovery plan doesn’t carry the weight of a mandate that the Board of Forestry have to follow, Oregon is already getting pinged financially by the federal government for not protecting its streams.

In 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which oversees NMFS, pulled $2 million in annual federal funding from Oregon, saying its coastal water pollution rules didn’t adequately protect fish from logging impacts. NOAA oversees salmon recovery under the Endangered Species Act.

RELATED: Feds Rule Oregon’s Not Protecting Coastal Waters From Logging

NOAA West Coast Regional Administrator Barry Thom says the state’s proposed new standard wouldn’t be enough of an improvement to change minds at his agency.

“Given the scope of the rule, in term of the streams it covers, it’s hard to believe the rule moving forward is adequately protective of cold water,” he said.

Thom’s office has been nudging Oregon for years to strengthen rules on logging and other activities that can damage salmon habitat. He says Oregon’s efforts are a step in the right direction. But only a step.

“I think it’s gonna be a tough hill to climb to get over that bar, just given what’s been put forward so far.”

When Cilde Grover was growing up, this pasture was open all the way to Winchuck River.  Now the trees are taking over.
When Cilde Grover was growing up, this pasture was open all the way to Winchuck River.  Now the trees are taking over. Jes Burns, OPB/EarthFix

OPB News Article: After Pushback, Oregon Scraps Report Linking Private Forests To Water Quality Risks


The forest surrounding Jetty Creek, the water supply for the town of Rockaway Beach on Oregon's north coast, has been logged heavily. Some residents there say the timber harvests have impacted their water quality, but the forest owners, industry groups and the state's Department of Forestry disagree.
The forest surrounding Jetty Creek, the water supply for the town of Rockaway Beach on Oregon’s north coast, has been logged heavily. Some residents there say the timber harvests have impacted their water quality, but the forest owners, industry groups and the state’s Department of Forestry disagree. Tony Schick/OPB/EarthFix

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality drafted a report that identified logging as a contributor to known risks for drinking water quality in communities up and down the Oregon coast.

But the report has never been published.

It was scrapped by the agency after intense pushback and charges of anti-logging bias from the timber industry and the state’s Department of Forestry, according to interviews and public records.

Page 1 of !CoastDWPP DraftFinal July2015 v3Contributed to DocumentCloud by Tony Schick of EarthFixView document

In the summer of 2015, water quality specialists with DEQ finished a draft of a resource guide for 50 public water systems along the coast. It assessed threats to surface water and offered guidance on how to protect it before it reaches treatment systems.

It also focused on the potential impacts from industrial logging operations, which own the majority of land surrounding many drinking water sources. That report prompted fears within the timber industry of a coordinated effort between coastal citizens and environmental regulators to limit or prohibit logging along the Oregon coast.

They heaped piles of criticism on DEQ, and prompted input from coastal legislators and others. Industry groups held a symposium on forest water quality, taking aim at the same issues raised in DEQ’s work.

Ultimately, DEQ shelved the report. Eighteen months later, it still hasn’t finished it and doesn’t plan to publish it.

The fate of that report offers a glimpse at what can happen when a state environmental agency’s work runs afoul of a politically influential industry. It also shows how, on certain forestry issues, the agenda of state regulators aligns more closely with the timber industry than with concerned citizens.

“It’s unfortunately part of a pattern in which the Department of Forestry has bullied DEQ,” said Nina Bell, of Northwest Environmental Advocates.

Bell has been filing lawsuits over coastal water quality for years.

“That’s not a surprise,” Bell said. “That doesn’t make it right. In fact it’s just flat-out wrong for the Department of Forestry to be only advocating for landowners who stand to gain money by cutting down trees and not being there to help protect the public resources, like drinking water.”

DEQ considers coastal water systems especially vulnerable. Many are small, and with watersheds facing the ocean, they feel the brunt of coastal wind and rain, which can dump debris into drinking water sources.

“They are all facing very similar issues,” Sheree Stewart, DEQ’s drinking water protection coordinator, said. “A lot of those watersheds have forest industrial private land, and so the report needed to focus on what those land uses were.”

Behind a fence, a recently cleared pile of rock, dirt and twigs sits on the banks of Jetty Creek near the surface water intake for the drinking water plant in Rockway Beach on Oregon's coast. Coastal storms dumped much of this into the creek. Water quality experts say such storms make coastal communities vulnerable to source water contamination, which they expect to worsen because of climate change.
Behind a fence, a recently cleared pile of rock, dirt and twigs sits on the banks of Jetty Creek near the surface water intake for the drinking water plant in Rockway Beach on Oregon’s coast. Coastal storms dumped much of this into the creek. Water quality experts say such storms make coastal communities vulnerable to source water contamination, which they expect to worsen because of climate change. Tony Schick/OPB/EarthFix

Consider last year, when a rainstorm dumped 18 inches in Tillamook County. That storm caused flooding and landslides. It destroyed culverts and left small streams looking like chocolate milk.

In Rockaway Beach, a town on the north Oregon Coast, the water plant operator needed an excavator to clear the rock and sediment that had poured into Jetty Creek, the town’s main water source.

Water quality experts predict coastal storms to intensify because of climate change. They also say forest loss can exacerbate the effects of coastal storms.

“So what we’ve seen is an increase in a lot of turbidity and sediments,” Stewart said.

Turbidity is the technical term for the sediment and debris in water. Too much of it interferes with the chlorine used for disinfection. The result can mean chemicals in drinking water that are bad for people’s health.

Rockaway Beach has struggled with turbidity for years. Residents there have gotten several alerts about harmful chemicals in their drinking water, byproducts from the disinfection process.

There’s another factor in Rockaway Beach: clearcut logging. Jetty Creek flows through private industrial forest, and 80 percent of this watershed has been logged in recent years.

Swaths of forests have been replaced by bald slopes.

Studies have shown forest loss can lead to greater water quality problems, including higher treatment costs. DEQ’s draft report stated that “clearcut timber harvesting is known to increase landslide rates on steep slopes and increase streamflows and erosion.” It also said narrow strips of trees left near streams are often thrown by the wind, and that timber harvesting can contribute sediment into streams through roads and slash techniques.

Industrial forest companies are by far the single largest owner of land in coastal drinking watersheds, owning 100 percent of some source water areas.

In fact, water for 40 percent of the drinking water systems on the coast flows through forest owned by private companies that log extensively. And 64 percent of all coastal water systems have had two or more alerts, warning customers of problems with disinfecting water so it is safe enough to drink.

A draft of DEQ’s unpublished report included these statistics. The timber industry didn’t like that. Neither did the Department of Forestry, which regulates the timber industry. They deny any link between forest loss and increased turbidity, let alone problems with harmful disinfection byproducts.

Timber industry groups caught wind of the agency’s work at a Board of Forestry meeting, where resident Meg Thompson laid out her concerns, and said she and others were seeking full Bull Run-like protections.

The Bull Run watershed, which supplies drinking water for the City of Portland, has been off limits to loggers since the 1990s.

“We’re hoping that eventually using the technical support of DEQ and our source water risk assessments that we can develop full protective plans,” Thompson said.

This testimony proved to be a significant concern of the industry.

Industry Group Comments on DEQ Report (p. 2):

Ms. Eastman Thompson’s comments were alarming because, by calling for “full Bull Run type protections,” she is, in effect, calling for a moratorium on all human activities in these watersheds. Moreover, Ms. Eastman Thompson is sharing publicly the “exciting news” that DEQ’s work, in collaboration with Regional Solutions, will produce these “full protective plans.” She then asked for Oregon Department of Forestry (“ODF”) to put these drinking watersheds in “conservancy,” and to impose a moratorium on all herbicide use. While fringe elements have, over the years, occasionally called publicly for broad prohibitions on logging in coastal drinking watersheds, the thought that DEQ and Regional Solutions may be facilitating that outcome is alarming.

Public records obtained by EarthFix show the groups told DEQ’s director the report “encourages the reader to identify ‘threats’ with little data. They also said DEQ should not help local activists in their push for tougher clean-water standards.“While fringe elements have, over the years, occasionally called publicly for broad prohibitions on logging in coastal drinking watersheds, the thought that DEQ and Regional Solutions may be facilitating that outcome is alarming,” the comments stated.

Officials with two industry groups, Oregonians for Food and Shelter, and the Oregon Forest Industries Council, declined to be interviewed for this story.

Public records also show Peter Daugherty, now the state forester, sent four pages of comments to DEQ after the agency solicited his feedback. In them, he questioned both the science and the purpose of the report.

Daugherty, who was the department’s head of private forests at the time, said “the document seems to be responding to citizen group concerns about forest management, rather than doing an unbiased analysis of threats to drinking water.

Forestry officials suggested DEQ remove language about the connection between timber harvests and landslides or sediment in streams. They said the report needed to be reworded so that it didn’t suggest the state’s forestry laws were too weak to protect clean water.

In an interview, Daugherty said the two agency’s often work closely.

“Partners do do critical and I mean critical review of each other’s work,” Daugherty said. “We see that as a way to improve our partnership and come to a common understanding about the science on forest land and forest management.”

He praised the quality of water that flows through Oregon’s forests and questioned the premise coastal communities’ water quality woes could be blamed on forest management — logging, construction and maintenance of roads and culverts, and pesticide spraying to kill plants that compete with newly planted trees after a clearcut.

“I don’t believe that there’s any scientific evidence that forest practices are directly related to some indications of potential increased turbidity in those systems,” Daugherty said.

DEQ staff said they stood by the science in their report, but did acknowledge the report had the appearance of bias because it focused so much on private forests. The reason, they said, is the substantial amount of land owned by private forests.

DEQ has since shifted focus. It produced individual documents for each water system, instead of going ahead with its bigger-picture report that connects the dots on what water quality experts and environmentalists fear is a systemic risk for communities all along the coast.

The agency now plans to conduct a statewide water assessment in the future, which won’t single out logging or any other industry for degrading drinking water.

The Department of Forestry and timber industry groups both supported that shift.

Recovery plan for Oregon coast coho released: Feds say that Oregon’s proposal for new riparian rules is inadequate

NOAA Fisheries has released a recovery plan for Oregon Coast coho, and the plan addresses the Oregon Board of Forestry’s proposed riparian rules, and finds them inadequate.  This plan is available on NOAA’s website.

“If the [riparian rule] proposal is not significantly strengthened, NMFS will still be concerned that it doesn’t provide adequate protections especially for shade and wood recruitment parameters. Oregon Department of Forestry’s RipStream data . . . found that no-cut buffers of 90 feet meet ODEQ’s protecting cold-water standard approximately 50 percent of the time . . . Because the November 2015 proposed buffers are less than 90 feet and allow harvest within the RMA, the proposal is not likely to meet the water quality standard.”  (p. 3-24, emphasis added)

The following is an Oregonian article discussing the plan:

Feds unveil 10-year recovery plan for threatened coastal coho


The Oregonian

Andrew Thien
December 14, 2016

Homestead_coho_salmon_Tillamook_Forest-Oregon Department of.jpg
Adult coho salmon spawning in the Tillamook State Forest. Oregon Wild and the Center for Biological Diversity have opened a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service for failing to produce a recovery plan for the Oregon coastal coho, which have been on the endangered species list since 2008. (Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Forestry) (LC-)

NOAA Fisheries released a recovery plan Wednesday that officials hope may spur significant habitat gains for threatened coastal coho salmon and, if followed by private landowners, lead to the fish’s removal from the threatened species list within a decade.

The federal agency’s recovery plan, a requirement for animals protected under the Endangered Species Act, sets a roadmap for private landowners and other property owners along a stretch of Oregon coastline stretching from Seaside to Port Orford. The coastal coho has been a threatened species since 1998.

Federal officials are optimistic that there are fewer challenges for coastal coho than other salmonids along the West Coast, where hydropower dams and other on-the-ground conditions pose larger obstacles to recovery. The plan for salmon and steelhead along the Snake River projects a 50- to 100-year recovery.

But officials are hopeful that coastal coho, one of 28 threatened and endangered species of salmon or steelhead along the West Coast, may recover significantly within a decade – at a projected cost of up to $110 million.

Rob Walton recovery coordinator for NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region, said the plan is centered largely around improving habitat for the salmonid.

“The best available science tells us that habitat is the bottom line in stabilizing and rebuilding coho to the point they can sustain themselves,” Walton said in a statement.

Climate change, which warms the waters where they spawn and grow up, still presents a threat but Walton said better habitat can help mitigate those risks.

But the federal government can’t achieve major improvements without help from private landowners, and the plan is not regulatory. “We know that we cannot achieve recovery and desalting on our own,” he said.

The coastal coho’s habitat covers a vast network of streams, creeks and river systems along Oregon’s beaches and inland to the Coast Range. The fish are found in the Nehalem, Nestucca, Salmon, Siletz, Tillamook Bay, Yaquina, Alsea, Siuslaw, Coos, Coquille, and Umpqua River systems, according to the NOAA report.

The fish’s population dropped dramatically from its early 1900s peak, when an estimated 2 million adult fish returned to coastal rivers each year. By 1983, that estimate fell to about 14,600.

In 2015, officials estimated the number of spawning coastal coho hit 57,000.

The 230-page document is the product of years of research and builds upon a similar conservation plan adopted by the state of Oregon in 2007.

“We are making recommendations on what we think will be a roadmap to recovery,” Walton said on a conference call.

The plan offers several strategies for improving habitat. But the primary focus is “protect and restore” both freshwater habitat inland and lands where seawater and freshwater may mix. Those habitats are key to a fish’s survival from egg to young salmon and are most affected by climate change.

NOAA officials acknowledged large timber companies own huge tracts of land along coastal coho habitat. Those companies will be notified of the recovery plan, and informed of ways to improve salmon habitat – such as leaving large felled timber in streams to create pools, reduce temperature of the water and add shade.

“The plan recognizes the critical role of local landowners and communities in bringing about recovery,” Guido Rahr, president and CEO of the Wild Salmon Center said in a statement. The Wild Salmon center is developing a business plan to help boost local recovery. “We all must be part of a solution that will deliver multiple benefits for Oregon in the form of resilient communities, improved habitat and healthy fish populations.”

 

DEC 15 HEARING IN PORTLAND RESCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 30, 2017

The following news release was issued by the Board of Forestry regarding the rescheduling. 

News Release  

 Contact: Greg Wagenblast, greg.wagenblast@oregon.gov, 541-525-6462

Reschedule Notice: Dec. 15 Portland public hearing on proposed rule changes to stream buffers rescheduled

Due to inclement weather, tomorrow’s 4 p.m. public hearing and open house on proposed rule changes to stream buffers at Ecotrust, 721 NW Ninth Ave. in Portland, has been rescheduled. The rescheduled hearing is Jan. 30 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Ecotrust in Portland.

The public participated in hearings and open houses on the proposed rules throughout the state since Nov. 1.  The proposed rules would increase stream buffers and standards for trees left after harvest by 10 feet and approximately double standards for trees left after harvest to protect salmon, steelhead and bull trout in western Oregon.  The proposed rulemaking would affect streams that are west of the crest of the Cascades but not in the Siskiyou region, are classified as small or medium fish-bearing streams, and are determined to have salmon, steelhead or bull trout present.  For all other streams, the current rules will continue to apply.

Submit written or online comments through March 1, 2017 at RiparianRule@oregon.gov or by mail to Oregon Department of Forestry, 2600 State St., Salem, Oregon 97310, Attn: Stream Rules. After the Board of Forestry receives all public comments, it will consider final proposed rules in April 2017.

Find more information about riparian rulemaking on the Oregon Department of Forestry’s public website www.oregon.gov/ODF at Streamside (Riparian) Buffer Rules.

 

UPDATE: PORTLAND HEARING RESCHEDULED for January 30, 2017: Please join Wild Salmon Center Thursday, December 15th for two exciting events in support of Oregon’s North Coast Rivers…

https://giveguide.org/#wildsalmoncenter
 https://www.facebook.com/events/1775231516026923/
Please join Wild Salmon Center next Thursday, December 15th for two exciting events in support of Oregon’s North Coast Rivers…

First:
UPDATE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED BY THE BOARD OF FORESTRY TO JANUARY 30, 2017.

Public hearing on proposed stream buffer rules
Thursday, December 15th
4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Billy Frank Jr. Conference Room (2nd Floor)
721 NW Ninth Avenue, Portland, OR


Join us in telling the Board of Forestry that we need wider riparian buffers along salmon-bearing streams on private lands in Oregon. Forested buffers help shade rivers and ensure clearer, colder water for the benefit of both fish and local communities. The currently proposed buffers are a modest, but inadequate, step to protect streams from warming.

Followed by:

Feathers, Fins, and Friends Give!Guide Celebration
Thursday, December 15th
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Patagonia Portland
901 NW Irving Street, Portland, OR

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1775231516026923/

 We’ll be taking over Patagonia Portland for a night of shopping – and friendly competition – to celebrate the people, landscapes, and wildlife of Oregon.Make a Give!Guide donation at the event and you’ll receive a 40% off coupon to Patagonia Portland on the spot – and be entered to win Patagonia gear!

In partnership with 
the Audubon Society of Portland and 1,000 Friends of Oregon.-Featuring Patagonia’s Long Root Ale and catering from Kichana-
Please RSVP on our Facebook page (this event is FREE and open to the public).

Dallas and Salem Public Hearings Set for Dec. 8 are Canceled

News Release  
 
Contact: Greg Wagenblast, greg.wagenblast@oregon.gov, 541-525-6462
 
Cancelation Notice for Dec. 8 Dallas and Salem public hearing on proposed rule changes to stream buffers

Due to inclement weather, the public hearings and open houses on proposed rule changes to stream buffers at the Dallas City Hall at noon today and at the Oregon Department of Forestry in Salem at 4 p.m. today are canceled.

The public participated in hearings and open houses on the proposed rules throughout the state since Nov. 1.  The proposed rules would increase stream buffers and standards for trees left after harvest by 10 feet and approximately double standards for trees left after harvest to protect salmon, steelhead and bull trout in western Oregon.  The proposed rulemaking would affect streams that are west of the crest of the Cascades but not in the Siskiyou region, are classified as small or medium fish-bearing streams, and are determined to have salmon, steelhead or bull trout present.  For all other streams, the current rules will continue to apply.

Submit written or online comments through March 1, 2017 at RiparianRule@oregon.gov or by mail to Oregon Department of Forestry, 2600 State St., Salem, Oregon 97310, Attn: Stream Rules. After the Board of Forestry receives all public comments, it will consider final proposed rules in April 2017.

Find more information about riparian rulemaking on the Oregon Department of Forestry’s public website www.oregon.gov/ODF  at Streamside (Riparian) Buffer Rules.

###

Oregon Board of Forestry’s Proposed Coldwater Protection Rule: KEY ISSUES AND RECOMMENDED CHANGES

Oregon Board of Forestry’s Proposed Coldwater Protection Rule
For Western Oregon Private Land

KEY ISSUES AND RECOMMENDED CHANGES

What’s going on? The Oregon Board of Forestry has proposed new stream protection rules that modestly increase restrictions on logging near some streams on some of Oregon’s private forest land in Western Oregon.  The purpose of these rules is to prevent streams from warming up when streamside shade trees are logged — as required by our water quality laws.

These rules will become effective July 1, 2017 unless public comments received by March 1 convince the Board to improve them.  The Oregon Stream Protection Coalition is actively involved in promoting improvements to these proposed rules.  Even if the Board doesn’t change its rule proposal before final adoption, comments submitted at public meetings and in writing will help get the word out that this rule change isn’t enough to protect water quality and that Oregonians want stronger stream protection on more streams statewide

KEY ISSUES:

  • Oregon’s current forest practices on private lands cause too much water pollution.
  • The Board of Forestry has agreed and found that Oregon’s forest practices are causing damaging water pollution that warms streams. Oregon’s salmon, steelhead, bull trout, and other fish need cold water to thrive.  Oregon water quality laws require meeting that forestry rules meet water quality standards that protect cold water for fish.
  • The Oregon Board of Forestry has proposed new logging rules that increase buffers along some streams, and in these buffers logging is limited to reduce water pollution.
    • These buffers are an improvement on existing practices, but they will not provide enough protection for fish because they do not go far enough to protect the cold water that fish need.
  • The Oregon Stream Protection Coalition welcomes changes to existing forestry practices and is advocating for stronger rules that will provide a greater likelihood that the water quality standard require protection of cold water will be met.

SUMMARY OF THE RULE PROPOSAL

  1. The rule proposal provides for no cut buffers as follows:
    • 60 feet on small “salmon, steelhead and bull trout” streams.
    • 80 feet on medium medium “salmon, steelhead and bull trout” streams.
  2. The rule proposal provides for “variable retention” buffers as follows:
    • The first 20 feet are a no cut zone.
    • On small salmon, steelhead, and bull trout streams, between 20 feet and 60 feet, more trees must be left in the buffer (measured in basal area). This includes both conifer and hardwood trees.
    • On medium salmon, steelhead, and bull trout streams, between 20 feet and 80 feet, more trees must be left in the buffer (measured in basal area).  This includes both conifer and hardwood trees.
  3. On streams that run in an east-west direction, the rule proposal provides for a 40 foot no cut buffer on the north side of the stream.
  4. “Pre-commercial thinning” and “release activities” still are allowed anywhere in any of the buffers.

The full rule language and more is available here: Official state website on rule change

OREGON STREAM PROTECTION COALITION’S
RECOMMENDED CHANGES TO THE PROPOSED RULES 

  1. Widen the proposed buffers. 
    • Buffers should be at least 90-120 wide to protect salmon, steelhead and bull trout from stream warming, and to meet DEQ water quality standards.
    • Scientists determined current buffers were inadequate as far back as the early 90s, but the Department of Forestry has not improved them.
    • Scientific research shows current private lands logging rules don’t prevent small and medium salmon, steelhead and bull trout streams from being warmed more than water quality standards allow.
    • Wide streamside buffers on Oregon’s private forestlands are needed and long overdue.
    • These buffers should be mandatory not voluntary to ensure fish are protected.

stream-chart

This chart created by the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition shows how much smaller the areas with special management restrictions are next to fish-bearing streams in Oregon compared to Washington and California.  The proposed rule change will add only 10 feet to current buffers on LESS THAN A THIRD of the “small” and “medium” fish streams in Western Oregon

  1. Extend the streamside buffers further upstream to protect salmon habitat.
    • New rules should apply at least 1600 feet upstream from salmon, steelhead, and bull trout reaches.
    • This distance is supported by science, the intent of the cold water standard, and the EPA.
  1. Include the Siskiyou Region in the rule making
    • Under the proposed rules, this region will be left out of increased streamside buffers even though there is adequate information and urgency to protect fish in this region.
    • We don’t need to do another expensive long-term study while the fish suffer.

WHERE THE NEW BOARD OF FORESTRY RULES WON’T APPLY

rule-proposal-map

  1. Make all buffers no cut buffers
    • Don’t allow partial cuts as an experiment. Variable retention rules will allow logging too close to streams, contributing to stream warming and harming fish.
    • EPA analysis shows that partial cut buffers are likely to increase stream temperatures
  2. Make buffers the same width on all streams, regardless of which direction the streams run.
    • Buffers are needed to provide healthy instream habitats, limit sedimentation from logging, and to protect cold water. There is not sufficient evidence to support allowing smaller buffers on the streams that run east-west.
  3. Ensure that the effectiveness of this new rule is monitored.
    • The Board needs to be sure that these rules can meet the legally required coldwater standard and protect fish, especially because the prescriptions are risky.
  4. Make buffers apply equally on on all streams, regardless of which private landowner owns that land.
    • The Board of Forestry should not allow some landowners to use smaller buffers, and to harm public waters and threatened and endangered species, except in very limited instances of an overly burdensome impact on the landowner.
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