Oregon Board of Forestry Testimony, April 22, 2015

BEFORE THE OREGON BOARD OF FORESTRY
Statement of Mary Scurlock, Oregon Stream Protection Coalition
Regarding Agenda Item 2: Methods for Riparian Rule Analysis
Sunriver, Oregon
22 April 2015

My name is Mary Scurlock, and I represent the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition’s 21 fishing industry and conservation member groups united in support of stronger, science-­based riparian protection for streams on Oregon’s over 10.6 million acres of private forestland. We stand united around the common belief that a stronger regulatory baseline is needed to ensure the long-­term health of freshwater ecosystems and the multitude of economic benefits they support, including but not limited to saw timber and wood fiber.

  • The Decision Analysis Package coming to the Board, as outlined by the Department in the pre-­meeting materials, promises to provide an adequate basis for the Board to select proposed rule prescriptions on June 3

The information now being prepared by the Department for delivery to the Board ahead of the June 3 meeting falls into main four categories

  1. Predictive model-­generated information about how proposed prescriptions perform to prevent stream warming, and other information relevant to prescription evaluation where the predictive model is informative. This is the threshold information that the Board will use to determine whether a prescription is effective enough to be considered capable of “meeting” the Board’s objective for this rule process and its legal duty to promulgate rules that meet the water quality criteria.
  2. Regulatory and Economic Impacts on Landowners assessed using both GIS generated information about how the various prescriptions affect the acreage available to landowners for harvest and estimates about the expected change in land and timber values. This information is relevant to how the Board will determine which of the alternatives deemed effective are “least burdensome” to the regulated community.
  3.  Ecological Benefit information other than protection from shade-­based stream warming, which should include how prescriptions contribute to large wood recruitment objectives, sediment and nutrient retention, expected fish response, and other benefits. This information is relevant to how the chosen rule alternative meets the Board’s natural resource objectives other than those directly related to water quality criteria for stream temperature based on streamside shade.
  4.  Geographic Extent Information. This information simply illustrates how the various prescriptions would change the status quo in the different ODF geographic regions depending on whether they apply to all small and medium fish streams, or just to salmon, steelhead and bull trout reaches. This relates to how the Board chooses to geographically constrain the reach of the resource degradation finding it made without reference to geography in January of 2012.

Although we have a few comments to make about each of these categories of information, our overall evaluation is that the Board will have an adequate informational basis upon which to make a decision on prescriptions that should go forward to proposed rule language on June 3. 

We make this finding on our belief that the predictive model is a robust and credible tool for evaluating prescription effectiveness to prevent harvest that allows undesirable shade reductions and consequent solar warming as required by applicable EQC-­ and EPA-­approved water quality criteria limiting such warming. This is the key piece of information that the Board needs to consider because it goes to the threshold determination of whether a particular prescription is adequate to meet the Board’s objective of preventing harvest related stream warming as required by DEQ water quality criteria. All of the other information is subordinate to the Board’s determination of prescription effectiveness.

For example, the relevance of economic impact information at this point is to allow the Board to select the “least burdensome” alternative or alternatives from among those determined to be adequate to meet the water quality goal according to the predictive model and other evaluative information. The information prepared by the ODF is more than adequate to do this job. It will not, however, be adequate to serve as the sole source of scientific input to comprehensive economic analysis required prior to adoption of a final administrative rule. Improved availability of certain information about how streamside prescriptions contribute to other ecological benefits besides those related to preventing shade loss and stream warming is very important because prescriptions designed to meet temperature criteria will also directly and indirectly improve non-­shade related riparian functions.

      • ADDITIONAL COMMENTS ON RULE ANALYSIS INFORMATION

The Model and other information about prescription effectiveness

It is our assessment that the scientific modeling developed by ODF to allow the Board to evaluate the relationship between streamside logging, stream shade, and stream temperature response represents state-­of-­the art science. To our knowledge the Board has never before been presented with such a rigorous scientific analysis to inform a rulemaking provision for resource protection. This body of work has been carefully developed over many years, grounded and calibrated in an extensive base of field data and tailored to address very specific questions and prescriptive scenarios, and subject to peer review at several junctures. While our experts might quibble with certain interpretations of data near the margins of the analytic findings, we fully support the crux of this analysis and its findings.

• Ecological Benefits Assessment

We have three comments on the ecological benefits analysis.

First, it is important to acknowledge that the prevention of stream warming is itself an “ecological benefit” that was evaluated using the predictive model and other scientific information in a separate exercise, and that the large wood, fish response and other functions analysis adds to that important benefit.

Second, although we reserve judgment on this specific analysis of large wood, fish response and other functions until we see the details, the proposed methods seem likely to be informative on their face, and should provide valuable context for the June decision. Even without seeing the results of a quantitative analysis, we are certain that a proposed rule change that expands streamside leave areas and reduced logging and equipment operations within them will confer substantial and measurable benefit to other important water protection functions. For example, these benefits include improved sediment retention, nutrient retention, large wood recruitment, flood abatement, protection of wetlands and near-­surface groundwater conditions and processes , and riparian wildlife habitat.

Third, while acknowledgement of and some attempt to quantify the multitude of ecological benefits from increased riparian protection is important to an informed decision process this should not be the end of the benefits analysis. We emphatically note that it will be very important for ODF to include estimates of the economic value of these manifold environmental benefits as part of its comprehensive economic analysis.

• Geographic Extent of Prescriptions

We have two comments here.

First, we urge the Board not to conflate its decisions about prescription effectiveness with decisions about either geographic or stream extent. The effectiveness of prescriptions should be the primary determinant of which prescriptions are chosen. Whether a region or set of stream reaches are included should be based on the Board’s findings about which regions and stream reaches are not currently receiving prescriptions that are adequately likely to meet the applicable water quality criteria.

Second, as we have previously indicated to the Board we are not satisfied that this rule process has adequately acknowledged the clear implications of the RipStream study for streams subject to warming limitations as part of watershed-­wide temperature TMDLs.
While we recognize that including all stream reaches to which Temperature TMDLs apply would exceed the “outer limit” of the potential footprint for this rule (all small and medium
fish streams) we believe that this information is nonetheless relevant for the following reasons:

  •  In addition to reaches subject to the Protecting Coldwater Criterion, there is an existing legal duty to prevent stream warming on most if not all other streams by virtue of valid existing TMDLs. Under Oregon’s water quality standards, once a TMDL is completed, its provisions override the PCW criterion. The Board’s failure to acknowledge its duty to ensure that the forest practices rules meet TMDLs as well as the PCW ignores the plain language of the water quality standards, and is not an acceptable basis for restricting the scope of new rules. We think it is important that the Board -­-­ and EQC -­-­ both recognize that:
  •  the same temperature standards apply to all perennial streams, at a minimum, and do not distinguish between SSBT, fish-­bearing, and non-­fish bearing streams;
  •  the same temperature standards apply to all streams, regardless of whether they are impaired or not impaired; and
  • the allowable warming under TMDLs is no longer just the PCW’s 0.3˚ C, but becomes between zero and 0.1˚ which reflects the applicable human use allowance.

RipStream clearly demonstrates we are not meeting our obligations under these TMDLs (and any that are likely to be developed in the future for that matter). The study results demonstrate significant stream warming under current rules on small and medium streams -­-­ not just to salmon, steelhead and bull trout-­bearing streams.

The Board is considering applying increased buffers only to “Salmon Steelhead and Bull Trout” bearing reaches, which would protect very few of the stream miles where warming limitations equivalent to or less than the PCW actually apply. We urge the Board to consider all information that illustrates the actual scope of the various rule options relative to all the streams in need of protection. Please work to ensure that a fully informed decision is made by the Board in June ,and that you have a full understanding of the stream warming limitations set by temperature TMDLs as well as the Protecting Coldwater Criterion.

  • PUTTING THIS RULEMAKING IN CONTEXT: Freshwater habitat is not recovered and drought conditions and climate change heighten stream-­dwelling species vulnerability to land use impacts. There is a pressing need for immediate policy change on Oregon forest practices.
  •  Just because Oregon Coast Coho Salmon populations have increased in recent years (on average, in aggregate) doesn’t prove that freshwater habitat is doing fine and changes in land use practices aren’t needed. In the public discourse over the last few months, we have run across several misconceptions about the need for new rules. One of them is evident in the letter sent to the Board by the Committee for Family Forestlands: that recent increases in coastal coho spawner abundance demonstrate that all is well with salmon habitat and forest land use practices. This conclusion is not supported.

First, I am advised by NOAA Fisheries and the record of the coho listing that the initial ESA listing was primarily driven by trends in production of salmon, i.e. by declines in recruits (the number of juveniles that survive to maturity), not spawners. See e.g. Lawson, 1993. So a more relevant graph to consult would be one based on ODFW’s combined spawner & harvest numbers, below.

C lick here to download the testimony and see the graph

Second, while both spawners and recruits have increased since the 1990s when coho were originally listed, this is still too short of a time period to reflect the result of changes in forest practices. It will take decades more for streams and the fish inhabiting them to respond to the changes in riparian management from the 1994 rules. It is not appropriate to rely on the self-­serving speculation of a special interest group in these matters. Instead, we need to rely on our extensive scientific knowledge of how ongoing forest practices impact habitat characteristics known to limit fish survival.

Third, the prevailing opinion of experts on this fishery is that the most likely causes for the recent upticks are: reduced harvest, short-­term variation in marine and freshwater climate, greatly reduced hatchery coho releases, and — in some local streams only— directed habitat restoration efforts. This uptick seems unlikely to continue given the low snowpack and general drought conditions now facing much of the west, coupled with the expectation of poor ocean conditions. (See attached article in Science by R. Service, 2015). Fish biologists are now predicting at least a 25% smaller return rate by 2016. (Pers. Comm. B. Rees, Association of NW Steelheaders). This convergence of highly adverse circumstances is likely reduce coho salmon survival for at least the next 3 years, and well beyond that should the adverse conditions prevail.

      •  Time for A Change: status quo is not acceptable

The conservation community and the interested public it represents are understandably frustrated with Oregon’s slow rate of progress toward updating its forest practices rules to meet water quality standards. Our stream protection standards are a fraction of those
provided by our neighboring states, both of which sustain viable timber industries. I provide here two chart that illustrates this gap for both fish streams and nonfish streams when Oregon’s rules are compared to those in Washington and California. (We note that
the Board is admonished by ORS 527.765(1)(c ) to consider “[a]ppropriate practices employed by other forest managers” in developing its own management practices. These clearly include at least those practices employed by private forest managers in other
western states).

Click here to view the full testimony including charts, photographs, and Science article.

Oregon Stream Protection Coalition Testifies at Environmental Quality Commission about rulemaking to protect streams

On April 16, Mary Scurlock of the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition presented the following testimony to Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission:

16 April 2015

BEFORE THE ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY COMMISSION

Statement of Mary Scurlock, Oregon Stream Protection Coalition
Regarding Board of Forestry’s Riparian Rulemaking

My name is Mary Scurlock, and I represent the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition’s 21 groups united in support of stronger stream protection on Oregon’s over 10.6 million acres of private forestland.

As you know, the Board of Forestry is slated to make a decision about which policy alternatives for riparian protection on private forest streams it will send to formal rulemaking on June 3, with a focus on small and medium streams. We urge the Commission to be an active and demanding partner in this effort, and to do everything in its power to ensure an outcome at the Board that results in forest practices rules that are truly capable of meeting applicable water quality standards for stream temperature on as many of the streams in need of such measures as possible.

  • The Department should be advocating for increased protection on all small and medium streams where stream warming limits apply under currently applicable water quality criteria

The ODF rule process has been so focused on the Protecting Coldwater Criterion as it is currently written that it does not adequately acknowledge the clear implications of the RipStream study for streams subject to warming limitations as part of watershed-wide temperature Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). We have three points :

  1. In addition to the Protecting Coldwater Criterion, there is an existing legal duty to prevent stream warming on most if not all other fish streams by virtue of valid existing TMDLs. We hope that this Commission agrees that under Oregon’s water quality standards, once a TMDL is completed, its provisions override the PCW criterion. The Board’s failure to acknowledge its duty to ensure that the forest practices rules meet TMDLs as well as the PCW ignores the plain language of the water quality standards, and is not an acceptable basis for restricting the scope of new rules. We think it is important that the Commission and the Board both recognize that:
  • the same temperature standards apply to all perennial streams, at a minimum, and do not distinguish between Salmon, Steelhead and Bull Trout (SSBT), fish-bearing, and non-fish bearing streams;
  • the same temperature standards apply to all streams, regardless of whether they are impaired or not impaired; and
  • the allowable warming under TMDLs is no longer just the PCW’s 0.3° C, but becomes between zero and 0.1° which reflects the applicable human use allowance.
  1. RipStream clearly demonstrates we are not meeting our obligations under these TMDLs (and any that are likely to be developed in the future for that matter). Compelling, peer-reviewed study results demonstrate significant stream warming under current rules on small and medium streams — not just to salmon, steelhead and bull trout-bearing streams. These results create a presumption that current rule are inadequate to meet the stream warming limitations set forth in the following 12 TMDLS within the potential boundary of the ODF’s new rules. – and which include all perennial streams unless indicated to the contrary: North Coast (all perennial or fish bearing); South Coast; Upper South Fork Coquille watershed; Umpqua (all perennial and fish bearing); Rogue except Bear Creek watershed; Bear Creek watershed (all perennial and intermittent fish bearing); Applegate, Lobster Creek and Lower Sucker Creek watersheds; Willamette (perennial and/or fish bearing); Sandy; Mid Columbia Miles Creek watershed (all perennial and intermittent).
  1. The Board is considering applying increased buffers only to “Salmon Steelhead and Bull Trout” bearing reaches, but this option would protect very few of the stream miles  where warming limitations equivalent to or less than the PCW actually apply. We estimate based on the incomplete information provided by ODF thus far that well under a third of fish streams on forestlands in western Oregon would receive protection from the new rules if only SSBT reaches are included, and urge the Commission to ensure that the information necessary to determine the actual scope of the new rules relative to streams in need of protection is considered as part of this process.

It is important and appropriate that the state’s lead water quality agency should work to ensure that the Board makes an informed decision in June. This includes a full understanding of the stream warming limitations set by temperature TMDLs as well as the Protecting Coldwater Criterion.

  • Just because Oregon Coast Coho Salmon populations are up doesn’t prove that freshwater habitat is doing fine and changes in land use practices aren’t needed

In the public discourse over the last few months, we have run across several misconceptions about the need for new forest practices rules in Western Oregon. One of them, pushed by members of the landowner community, is that recent trends in spawner abundance demonstrate that all is well with Oregon Coastal coho salmon habitat and forest land use practices.

This conclusion is not supported by the science.

  • First, I am advised by NOAA fisheries that the initial ESA listing was primarily driven by trends in production of salmon, i.e. by declines in recruits (the number of juveniles that survive to maturity.), not spawners. (See e.g. Lawson, 1993). So a more relevant graph to consult would be the OD FW spawner & harvest numbers. (See below).
  • Second, while both spawners and recruits have increased since the 1990s when Coho were originally listed, this is still too short of a time period to reflect the result of changes in forest practices. It will take decades for streams and the fish inhabiting them to respond to these types of changes.
  • Third, the prevailing opinion of experts on this fishery is that the most likely causes for the upward trend are reduced harvest, short-term variation in marine and freshwater climate, changes in hatchery practices, and — in local some areas — directed habitat restoration efforts.

The Status Quo is not acceptable: Oregon’s Forest Practices Just Don’t Measure Up

The conservation community and the interested public it represents are understandably frustrated with Oregon’s slow rate of progress toward updating its forest practices rules to meet water quality standards. We urge this Commission to do everything in its power to make sure that the rulemaking currently underway results in a significant change to forest practices on a significant portion of the streams in need of greater protection.

Our stream protection standards are a fraction of those provided by our neighboring states, both of which sustain viable timber industries. The two charts below illustrate the gap for both fish-bearing and nonfishbearing streams when Oregon’s rules are compared to those in Washington and California.

Click here to view the full testimony, including charts and photos.

 

Take Action: Ask for a no vote on bill for intensive, industrial logging on Oregon State Forests

Please help protect State Forest Streams by urging members of the Oregon House Agriculture Committee to Vote NO on HB3210. This bill would manage 85% of our state forests for intensive, industrial logging, harming fish and wildlife.

Please email the Committee Members, whose contact information can be found here:

Member: Representative Greg Barreto rep.gregbarreto@state.or.us
Member: Representative Sal Esquivel Rep.SalEsquivel@state.or.us
Member: Representative Lew Frederick Rep.LewFrederick@state.or.us
Member: Representative Chris Gorsek Rep.ChrisGorsek@state.or.us
Vice-Chair: Representative Wayne Krieger Rep.WayneKrieger@state.or.us
Member: Representative Caddy McKeown Rep.CaddyMcKeown@state.or.us
Vice-Chair: Representative Susan McLain rep.susanmclain@state.or.us
Member: Representative Gail Whitsett Rep.GailWhitsett@state.or.us
Chair: Representative Brad Witt Rep.BradWitt@state.or.us

Click here for a  fact sheet prepared by the North Coast State Forest Coalition.

Legislature begins negotiating weed killer spray reforms

A helicopter used to spray herbicides in Douglas County in 2014. Oregon's aerial spray laws are the West Coast's weakest. (Courtesy of Dena Reynolds)
A helicopter used to spray herbicides in Douglas County in 2014. Oregon’s aerial spray laws are the West Coast’s weakest. (Courtesy of Dena Reynolds)

By Rob Davis | The Oregonian/OregonLive

Legislators, industry and environment representatives are beginning to reconcile reform proposals for Oregon laws governing the spray of weed killers from helicopters.

A 2014 investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive found Oregon does less than neighboring states to protect people and the environment from chemicals sprayed to control weeds after clearcuts.

Oregon’s rules even do more for fish than people. Streams with fish get a 60-foot buffer. Homes and schools get none, despite the risk of toxic chemicals drifting.

A legislative workgroup is scheduled to start meeting Tuesday.

State Sen. Chris Edwards, D-Eugene, who convened the group, told The Oregonian/OregonLive he expects the issue to be one of the most contentious facing the 2015 Legislature.

But Edwards, chairman of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, said enough conflicts have occurred in Oregon forests to warrant reform. “Even industry understands that,” he said.

“What we have currently is not working for people that live in the forestland and forestland interface,” Edwards said. “What remains to be seen is what is most protective for those folks and politically feasible in the capitol.”

Edwards said he wanted the workgroup to “find common ground where there seems to be none currently.”

A proposal from state Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, would make Oregon’s spraying laws hew closer to those in Washington and California, increasing transparency and requiring companies to notify neighbors about their plans to spray and burn slash.

Today, coastal residents must listen for the sound of approaching helicopters as their only warning that toxic chemicals are being sprayed.

Dembrow’s bill, co-sponsored by state Rep. Ann Lininger, D-Lake Oswego, would require the state forestry board to mandate protective buffers around homes and schools. The forestry board in 1996 removed a no-spray buffer around homes.

A package of bills in the House from state Rep. Brian Clem, a Salem Democrat with strong timber ties, would require more training for pilots and those who investigate complaints while increasing funding to respond to incidents. Clem questioned the types of notifications and buffers Dembrow and Lininger proposed.

Still, Clem, who has received more than $23,000 in campaign donations from the timber industry since 2008, said he hopes to find middle ground.

“Their ideas are in the ballpark of possible,” he said. “I want to get the different concepts on the table and see if they’re workable.”

Reform advocates called Clem’s plan a distraction that does little to prevent problems, only react after they occur.

“What I see in this is that the timber industry rejects transparency and accountability,” said Lisa Arkin, executive director of Beyond Toxics, a Eugene advocacy group. “People deserve to be able to take steps to protect themselves and be treated like people in other states that do provide advanced notification.”

Dembrow said elements of Clem’s bills would boost the part of his plan that aims to improve incident response.

“There are some who see those bills as replacements, but I don’t see it that way,” Dembrow said. “We need legislation that leads to reasonable buffers around schools, residences, and drinking water, and gives neighbors real-time, advance notice when a spray is going to happen next to their homes.”

A spokeswoman for Gov. Kate Brown said her office was “engaged in the conversation” and will have a representative in the workgroup.

— Rob Davis

rdavis@oregonian.com

503.294.7657

@robwdavis

Oregon Stream Protection Coalition Testimony at the March 4th Board of Forestry Meeting

On March 4, Mary Scurlock testified at the Board of Forestry meeting regarding the upcoming rulemaking process to comply with the coldwater criterion.

Download Mary Scurlock’s Testimony to the Board of Forestry.

BEFORE THE OREGON BOARD OF FORESTRY
Statement of Mary Scurlock, Oregon Stream Protection Coalition
Re: Riparian Rule Analysis
4 March 2015

My name is Mary Scurlock and I speak today on behalf of the twenty-one fishing and conservation
groups comprising the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition. My intent is to bring your attention to
three issues related to the decisions you will be making in April and June:

• The relevance of valuing a wide range of ecological benefits in your decision-making.

• The importance of technically sound stream classification methods and fish habitat
distribution maps to achievement of your intended conservation outcomes.

• The need for clarity about the relationship between the Board’s duty to limit harvest-related
stream warming on stream segments to which the Protecting Coldwater Criterion applies and
the Board’s duty to limit stream warming to meet load allocations on “TMDL streams.”

1.  We urge the Board to consider the broad range of ecological and economic benefits that will
accrue to the public from more robust riparian conservation

This rule change is spurred by the legal need to protect public natural resources, a need that is based
on the societal decision not to subsidize private timber harvest with water quality degradation and
species extinctions that harm the public at large. In this respect, the public benefit of meeting water
quality and species protection is already self-evident to you and to the interested public.  However,
we still are concerned that in weighing options for policy change later this spring, the Board will
focus primarily on quantifying the costs that can be attributed to the regulated community.  While it
is necessary and proper that these costs should be quantified, in evaluating the costs and benefits of
increasing the size of protected riparian areas we urge you ensure that the wide range of ecological
and economic benefits flowing from the new policies also are recognized and valued in your
determinations.  This is particularly important to the recreational and commercial fishing industry
organizations participating in the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition.

We believe that there are practicable ways for the Department and the Board to ensure a balanced
portrayal of the economic impacts of regulatory change.  A fair accounting must begin by
acknowledging that ecosystem services1 have significant economic value, even if functioning
markets don’t exist for these services and precise valuation in dollars is not possible or practicable.  These services include, but go beyond, the ways in which stronger riparian protection measures to
prevent stream heating also will meet the need for greater inputs of mature trees both to stream
channels and the riparian forest floor.

Drawing from cases where the valuation of ecological services and benefits has been accomplished
in relation to restorative actions for water quality, aquatic habitats, and fish we have several
observations we would like to share:

• Frameworks and methodologies exist for identifying and valuing ecosystem services. 2   EPA, the World Bank, The Nature Conservancy, and European countries and others routinely assess these values.

• The list of ecosystem services associated with improved aquatic habitat conditions is long,
and it includes among many others: flood protection and stormwater regulation, drinking
water production and filtration for sediment and pathogens, nutrient retention, erosion
control/soil retention, sediment reduction, biodiversity conservation, increased fish
production, increased sport and recreational fishing, prevention of future ESA listings and
associated regulatory costs, and others.

• The estimated value of these ecosystems services is generally very large, even when
underestimated.3  Values vastly increase if the benefits to future as well as current generations are considered.

• The value of maintaining and restoring ecosystem health increases over time with human
population.

We are not demanding an exhaustive quantitative study of ecosystem services that will be enhanced
by increased riparian protection.  We are simply asking you to ensure that they are given meaningful
consideration in your deliberations.  At a minimum this means identifying the most significant of the
known ecological benefits of increased riparian protection and attributing some economic value to
these very real benefits.

2.  Ensure Implementation Methods and Tools are Technically Sound and Reasonable Presumptions are made to account for information gaps

The Department is on a course to present the Board with rule alternatives that could apply, in some or all basins, only to streams where Salmon Steelhead and Bull Trout habitat (SSBT) is deemed to exist.  As I will discuss in my next point, OSPC does not believe that this is an adequate approach.  We
recommend that PCW protections be applied to all streams, including “TMDL streams,” all Fish habitat streams and nonfish perennial streams.  Nonetheless, I wish to point out some concerns we have with the SSBT approach, as we understand it.

ODFW fish distribution maps are currently the best available statewide information, and we have
supported using these as a starting point for making reach level implementation decisions where
riparian rule prescriptions are vary based on the presence of fish habitat or habitat for particular
species.  However, given the maps’ limitations in a number of key respects, it will be critically
important to clarify how landowners and by the Department will use them, and how they will be
updated.

Our concern is simple: uncritical reliance on the ODFW maps in laying out riparian prescriptions
cannot be justified as they stand, a fact that should not be surprising given that they were not
developed to serve this kind of regulatory purpose.  If used as they stand, the maps will drastically
under-represent and therefore under-protect the actual extent of salmon, steelhead and bull trout
habitat.  This adds to the existing problem that ODF stream maps have not “classified” as fishbearing
or nonfishbearing an estimated 40-50% of streams statewide.4  

We are currently developing several recommendations about how to address this issue, a key one
being that field verification should occur as to the location of the first permanent natural barrier to
SSBT use.  Unless and until a permanent natural barrier is documented, SSBT habitat should be
presumed to exist the full length of a classified F streams and on unclassified streams.  We also
favor establishment of a clear and adequately staffed process for updating the maps, and urge
improvements to ODF’s 2007 guidance on the physical criteria and survey protocols it uses to
determine barriers to fish use.

3.  The Board needs more clarity on which water quality standards apply to which streams

In order for the Board to fully understand scope of its duties in this rulemaking process, you must
have a clear and full understanding of the applicable water quality standards that limit human-caused
stream warming.  As of now, this process lacks a common understanding by all parties of the
relationship between the limit on human warming set by the Protecting Coldwater Criterion (PCW) — which was the basis for the Board’s degradation finding — and limits set by water quality standards established under EPA-approved “Total Maximum Daily Loads.”

At this point in time, we are extremely concerned that the Board is laboring under a mistaken belief
that your finding of degradation under the PCW on the basis of RipStream requires the Board to limit
the scope of new riparian protections to streams meeting the numeric critieria (i.e. “non-impaired
streams” or “non 303(d)” streams).  This is not correct, and would have the odd result of providing
less protection on streams in worse condition.  Likewise, the Department is reticent about extending
protections to waters upstream of reaches with threatened and endangered species claiming lack of
proof that these streams require protection, yet protection of these streams is essential to meeting the PCW by the terms of the standard itself.  In order for the rules under consideration to meet water quality standards these two issues going to the scope of the rules must be addressed.

A brief explanation.  There are two general types of limits in Oregon’s temperature standards: overall
stream temperatures (numeric criteria) and caps on human-caused stream warming (the Protecting
Coldwater criterion or “PCW”).  The Department has repeatedly invoked the PCW because the RipStream study demonstrated that logging practices in excess of the PCW limit of .3° C.5  UnderOregon law, in the basins where temperature TMDLs have been approved by EPA,the TMDLs operate to change the applicable water quality standard.  First, the cap on allowable warming moves from being established by the PCW to that established by any applicable TMDLs.  Second, the geographic scope of that cap extends beyond the non-impaired reaches to the entire perennial network in a given basin or watershed.  This includes impaired streams not covered by the PCW.  And it includes streams that are not habitat for salmon, steelhead and bull trout.  In a few instances, the cap even extends to intermittent stream reaches with fish use.  Finally, the allowable increase in warming from all human activities cumulatively is capped at .3°C, leaving nonpoint sources with less than that total, depending on the individual TMDL.  This reading of the water quality standards in Oregon law is not novel and it is not ours alone; DEQ has clearly stated this interpretation of its standards in its guidance on the PCW issued in 2011.  Oregon DEQ, Internal Management Directive: Nonpoint Source Compliance with the Protecting Coldwater Criterion of the Temperature Standard (November 2011).

Two memoranda from Northwest Environmental Advocates to ODF and the Governor’s office
explain our concerns in more detail and are attached (View NWEA memo 1; view NWEA memo 2)

We urge the Board to seek clarity on these issues from its legal advisers and its colleagues at DEQ so
that it can formulate a plan for addressing the inadequacy of current prescriptions to meet stream
warming limits set by both the PCW and TMDLs.

Respectfully submitted,

Mary Scurlock

1.  Ecosystem services could be broadly defined as the ways in which ecosystems are used to produce human wellbeing.  See also http://esvaluation.org/ecosystem-services.

2. See e.g. Daily, G. C. 1997. Nature’s services: societal dependence on natural ecosystems. (Washington, DC, Island Press); Batker, D., E. Barclay, R. Boumans, and T. Hathaway. 2005. Ecosystem Services Enhanced by Salmon Habitat Conservation in the Green/Duwamish and Central Puget Sound Watershed (Prepared for WRIA 9 Watershed Forum of Local Governments through the King Conservation District); Green/Duwamish and Central Puget Sound Watershed Water Resource Inventory Area 9 (WRIA 9) Steering Committee. 2005. Salmon Habitat Plan – Making Our Watershed Fit for a King.

3.  For example, ecosystem services provided by forestlands in a single Washington subbasin in one year was estimated at between $1 and $5 billion dollars annually. Green/Duwamish and Central Puget Sound Salmon Habitat Plat at 6-5.

4.  Stream condition above natural fish barriers obviously has a bearing on downstream conditions but this is a subject we do not address here.

5.  RipStream average warming was .7°C, but sample site did not always manage to the minimum allowed by rule.  ODF modeling demonstrates that harvests to the minimum buffer allowed by rule would have caused warming on the order or 1.22° C on average.

6.  Basins with approved TMDLs are: North Coast, South Coast, Upper South Fork Coquille, Umpqua, Rogue Basin except Bear Creek, Bear Creek watershed, Applegate, Lobster Creek, Lower Sucker Creek (Illinois of the Rogue), Willamette, Sandy, Miles Creek watershed (Mid Columbia).

Take Action through Rogue Riverkeeper alert on ODF riparian rulemaking

Rogue Riverkeeper, an OSPC member and an organization that seeks to protect and restore water quality and fish populations in the Rogue River Basin and adjacent coastal watersheds, recently sent out an alert to encourage public input on Oregon Department of Forestry’s current riparian rulemaking process.

The alert is available on their website and posted here:

Streamside Trees Needed for Clean Water and Salmon

riparian forestProtecting trees in streamside forests is incredibly important. Healthy riparian forests keep water cool, filter polluted runoff from roads and logging areas, and provide valuable wildlife habitat. Streamside forests are critical to aquatic ecosystems, and make the clean water we all depend on possible. Your help is needed now to protect them!

Right now Oregon’s rules fail to adequately protect our streams and riparian forests from logging operations and don’t meet the minimum standards necessary to avoid harm to imperiled salmon. Most streamside forests may be clearcut as close as 20 feet from streams that harbor fish, and forests along our smallest streams may be completely removed. These practices cannot continue if Oregon wants to reach its goals for healthy streams and fisheries.

Because our riparian protection rules are so poor, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently denied approval of Oregon’s program to protect important coastal watersheds from impacts to water quality, and the state has lost millions in funding as a result.   (OSPC note: Oregon may lose funding but has not yet).

Oregon now has a clear opportunity to protect our waterways and satisfy federal requirements. The Oregon Department of Forestry is currently considering new stream buffer rules for streams that could meet some key state and federal requirements, so now is the perfect time to make sure your voice is heard!

Take Action: Send a letter to the Board of Forestry and to Governor Brown urging their support for adoption of strong rules that protect streams in the Rogue Basin and throughout Oregon.

 

Input Needed by Conservation Community on Oregon Forest Practices Monitoring Strategy

The Oregon Department of Forestry is soliciting input from the conservation community on the revision of its monitoring strategy.  Please provide input by March 25 to Terry.Frueh@oregon.gov (Phone number: 503-945-7392)

The Oregon Department of Forestry  conducts different types of monitoring, including effectiveness monitoring  to determine whether implementation of the Oregon Forest Practices Rules is adequate to meet environmental protection goals.  The existing monitoring program is intended to provide information that will allow for regulatory changes when needed to improve environmental protections.

The current Forest Practices Monitoring Program Strategic Plan,  created in April 2002, is available here.

It is critical that the conservation community get involved and provide input regarding potential changes to ODF’s monitoring plan because the plan will set the agency’s agenda for monitoring and adaptive management for the foreseeable future.  Adaptive management is used to craft policy changes to existing forest practices rules.  Furthermore, the monitoring plan will determine how limited funds are spent in evaluating the effectiveness of the rules and making adaptive changes.

Terry Frueh, Monitoring Specialist with the Oregon Department of Forestry, made this presentation to the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition on February 4, 2015. about the monitoring strategy revisions.

Additional information is available in the ODF Monitoring Strategic Plan Charter Work Plan, January 2015, and Status of work on questions from 2002 Monitoring Strategy. 

 

Take Action: Contact the Board of Forestry to ask for Stronger Water Quality Protections

Sweet Creek, Siuslaw River Basin, Lane County
Sweet Creek, Siuslaw River Basin, Lane County

The following are contact email addresses to get in touch with members of the Board of Forestry, the Board Administrator, and the State Forester and tell them that you support stronger protections for Oregon’s streams, fish, and water quality:

Board Administrator, Tara Sell:  Tara.L.Sell@oregon.gov

State Forester Doug Decker: Doug.S.DECKER@oregon.gov
(“Secretary to the Board”)

Board of Forestry Members:

Chairman of the Board, Tom Imeson:  tom.imeson@nwnatural.com
Sybil Ackerman-Munson:  sybilbof@gmail.com
Cindy Williams:  cdwill656@gmail.com
Tom Insko, Boise Cascade:  tominsko@bc.com
Gary Springer, Starker Forest Products:  springer@starkerforests.com
Mike Rose:  mrose@iamaw.org
Nils D. Christoffersen:  nils@wallowaresources.com

Inadequate forest practice rules lead to federal disapproval of Oregon’s Coastal Nonpoint Program

On January 30, 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notified the State of Oregon that its Oregon Coast Nonpoint Program is not sufficient to comply with the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990 (CZARA).  NOAA and EPA specifically faulted Oregon’s forest practices, which are inadequate to protect Oregon’s waterways.

Previously, in 1998, these agencies had approved Oregon’s program, subject to specific conditions. In their January 30, 2015 finding, the agencies determined that Oregon’s program was not fully approvable because the program did not meet these conditions as they relate to forestry condition. “By not adopting and implementing the additional measures applicable to forestry and forested lands that are necessary to achieve and maintain water quality standards and to protect designated uses, Oregon has not submitted a fully approvable program under CZARA.” (pg. 3)  The agencies called on the State to, among other things, adopt and implement forestry management measures to protect non fish-bearing streams and small and medium-sized fishbearing streams.

The agencies explained that a large body of science demonstrates that current management practices do not achieve and maintain water quality  and protect designated uses.  They drew particular attention the RipStream study (Oregon Department of Forestry’s Riparian and Stream Temperature Effectiveness Monitoring Project), which “found  that FPA riparian protections on private lands did not ensure achievement of the PCW [(protecting cold water)] criterion under the Oregon water quality standard for temperature.”  (pg. 5)

With regard to non fishbearing streams, and contrary to the way that Oregon manages forest harvest along these streams, they stated that “non-fish-bearing streams should be treated no differently than fish-bearing streams when determining the appropriate buffer width to protect designated uses.” (pg. 7)  This is because salmonid distribution changes over time and other fish and aquatic organisms are important to stream health.

NOAA and EPA declined to rely on Oregon’s Paired Watershed Studies as evidence that current forest practices are sufficient to maintain water quality standards and protect designated uses, explaining that “a variety of factors confound the draft conclusions from the Hinkle Creek study[.]” (pg. 7) (Read more about the limitations of Oregon’s Paired Watershed Studies, as outlined by aquatic ecologist Dr. Chris Frissell in the report following his presentation to the Board of Forestry at the June 23, 2014, Riparian Rules Workshop.)

Below are links to the finding and associated documents.

Read about the federal disapproval in the news:

Regulators: Oregon logging rules don’t protect fish, water 

 Feds reject Oregon’s coastal pollution plan, could impose financial sanctions 

 

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