Click here to view or download as a PDF the following chart comparing the two current proposals being considered by the Board of Forestry.
Please contact Mary Scurlock at Mary.Scurlock@comcast.net for more information.
Click here to view or download as a PDF the following chart comparing the two current proposals being considered by the Board of Forestry.
Please contact Mary Scurlock at Mary.Scurlock@comcast.net for more information.
September 26, 2015, AP
This AP story is available on the OPB website.
A subcommittee of the Oregon Board of Forestry has identified two proposals for new state logging rules to keep streams in western Oregon cool enough for salmon.
One proposal increases no-cut buffer zones to 90 feet. The other offers approaches such as thinning or staggering harvests. Currently, trees must not be cut within 20 feet from streams.
Conservation and fishing groups say neither proposal is sufficient. They say no-cut buffers should be 100-foot deep.
Removing too many trees leads streams to warm up, which can harm fish. Logging near streams also eliminates downed logs, which help create deep pools for salmon to escape predators and hide from the heat.
Logging operators say increasing buffers would impact their business. The Board of Forestry will consider the proposals on Nov. 5.
24 September 2015
Contacts: Mary Scurlock, OSPC, 503.320.0712, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Van Dyk, Wild Salmon Center, 503.504.8471,email@example.com
COMPROMISE PROPOSALS ON NEW LOGGING RULES
FAIL TO PROTECT COLD WATER FOR SALMON
Conservation and Fishing Coalition urges 100 foot or larger stream buffers
Salem, OR: A committee of the Oregon Board of Forestry is set to deliberate over new logging rules for streams in western Oregon at a public work session tomorrow September 25 from 9am to 1 pm in Salem. The session’s goal is to identify one or two proposals that will be put to a vote of the full seven-member Board on November 5.
Two draft proposals released before the work session have conservation and fishing groups worried, as neither proposal includes the option for 100-foot no-cut setbacks that state scientists found were needed to prevent warming of salmon streams.
Removing too many trees near streams causes the water to heat up, which can harm cold-water fish like salmon and steelhead.
Neither of the draft proposals has earned support from conservation and fishing groups. “The proposal for a 90-foot buffer comes closest to providing adequate stream protection but it still falls far short of the mark and has some potentially gaping loopholes,” said Mary Scurlock, Coordinator of the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition comprising 23 conservation and fishing groups. “The other proposal is a total nonstarter because it makes only minor improvements to current buffers and will still warm streams beyond legal limits. ”
“The Board has a clear obligation to meet the Clean Water Act standards,” says Bob Van Dyk of the Wild Salmon Center, “and the science clearly shows at least a 100 foot buffer is needed to meet that standard.”
“Oregon’s forest rules to protect salmon lag far behind its neighbor in Washington State,” says Van Dyk. “It’s time for us to catch up to the science-based rules Washington State passed 15 years ago.”
Learn more on this topic at the OSPC website:
KEY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE PROPOSALS
Size of the riparian buffer ((i.e. the streamside area subject to harvest prohibitions or limitations):
Guest opinion published in the Oregonian
By Liz Hamilton and Bob Van Dyk
In this dry, thirsty summer, a host of people sacrificed for salmon. Ordinary fishermen followed bans on afternoon fishing. Anglers, guides and the entire sportfishing industry suffered. Federal fisheries managers trucked salmon to cooler water. Farmers in the Klamath Basin sacrificed valuable surface water to save fish and wildlife.
Unfortunately, not everyone did their part.
After an eight-year, state-sponsored study clearly showed logging along streams raises water temperatures above the legal standard, Oregon’s Board of Forestry was finally poised to expand protective buffers along streams in July. Gov. Kate Brown’s adviser told the board, “to be truly sustainable, Oregon’s private forests need to do their part to meet water quality standards and protect our environment.”
But after hearing concerns expressed by timber representatives in the audience and on the board, they delayed action once again. The board will now take up the topic in late September for possible action in early November.
Oregonians overwhelmingly believe that salmon are worth saving; they are our regional icon. To ensure the health of declining salmon runs, we invest hundreds of millions of state and federal dollars every year. Salmon stimulate more than a billion dollars annually in Oregon’s rural and urban economies — money flowing to small businesses, like sporting goods stores, guide services, manufacturers, restaurants and national and international commercial markets. As the Northwest climate continues to heat up, we need policies in place that ensure salmon survival alongside cities, agriculture and the timber industry.
Adequate stream buffers on private timberland are essential to sustainable salmon runs. Healthy standing forests along streams not only shade and cool water, they also supply downed trees to streams. These logs create jams and then deep pools, where juvenile and adult fish can ride out heat waves and escape predators. Heavy logging on private timberlands starves streams and salmon of cold water refuges.
Expanding current buffers from the current standard of as little as 20 feet to a minimum of 100 feet on fish-bearing streams would help bring Oregon into compliance with standards set by state and federal scientists. Oregon stream buffers would finally be on par with other Northwest states while affecting only an additional 2 percent of private forest acreages. Washington, where stream buffers are far larger than in Oregon, sustains a thriving, $8 billion timber industry. And expanded buffers would be an important step toward getting Oregon coho removed from the endangered species list.
Oregon’s broad coalition of salmon supporters have tried for two decades to make the incremental changes necessary for stream protection. Now it’s time for the timber industry to step up.
Gov. Brown can help protect cold water by asking the board to strengthen forest rules up to levels similar to Washington and California. She can provide further leadership by committing to assist the small portion of family forestland owners who might be unduly affected. By doing so, she will help protect our fishing economy, take an important step toward protecting our streams in the face of climate change, and help build better fish habitat for generations to come.
Liz Hamilton represents the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association and Bob Van Dyk represents the Wild Salmon Center.
The Oregon Board of Forestry Riparian Rule Subcommittee will meet at 9 a.m. Friday, September 25, 2015, in Salem at the State Forester’s Headquarters Office, Tillamook Conference Room, 2600 State St. Salem, Oregon 97310.
Download the agenda for the meeting. Materials for the meeting are available at the following link: http://www.oregon.gov/odf/Pages/board/BOF_Subc_RipRules.aspx
Comments have been submitted by various organizations and government entities in advance of the subcommittee meeting. Click to read the comments made by:
September 9th, 2015, The Willamette Week, by BEN DEJARNETTE
Although environmental groups have helped Democrats win big legislative majorities, the timber lobby trounced enviros in Salem once again this year.
A bill to regulate aerial spraying of timberland—the subject of a sobering investigative series inThe Oregonian—went nowhere. A bill to impede the export of raw logs met the same fate.
Critics say that even as the timber industry’s tax burden has eased, a well-funded industry trade group has skillfully used a growing war chest to shape public perception—to the public’s detriment.
Now those critics want to redirect those funds and revive a repealed tax on the industry.
One recent timber industry-funded television ad shows fourth-generation logger Bob Luoto filling a glass with crystal-clear water retrieved from one of the forest’s streams.
“Oregon has strong laws to help protect our watersheds,” Luoto explains. “Buffers of trees help ensure cool, shady streams that are great for fish and wildlife.”
The feds disagree with Luoto. Oregon’s stream-protection rules are so lax the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took the unprecedented step this year of nixing the state’s water-pollution plan.
Nonetheless, in July, the Oregon Board of Forestry postponed a long-anticipated vote on whether to increase logging buffers along streams.
Environmentalists such as Steve Pedery, conservation director for Oregon Wild, point a critical finger at the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, a semi-independent state agency that spent $1.05 million in tax money on advertising last year.
Officially, OFRI’s mission is to educate the public about forestry practices, but Pedery says the agency’s allegiance to timber interests is clear. OFRI receives its funding from a volume-based harvest tax paid by timber companies when they cut trees, and the agency’s commercials paint an idyllic portrait of forestry in Oregon, despite mounting criticism of state regulations.
“People who see those ads think that Oregon has the strongest logging rules in the country,” Pedery says. “As much as I disagree with the policies OFRI advocates, I have to give them credit: Their propaganda has been highly effective.”
OFRI’s tax-funded advertising campaign has put the agency at the center of a controversy over where the timber industry’s tax dollars go—and where they don’t.
In the 1990s, lawmakers phased out what was called the “privilege tax” on timber. According to analysis by InvestigateWest, that decision has saved Oregon’s timber companies an average of $59 million each year, adjusted for inflation.
But even as lawmakers gutted the privilege tax, they approved increases for a different tax—one that is popular within the industry. Under the current distribution formula for the Forest Products Harvest Tax, 26 percent of revenue is earmarked for OFRI, while the other 74 percent is split between forestry research and education, wildfire protection for private timberland owners, and enforcement of the Forest Practices Act—all stuff the timber industry supports.
“In effect, tax dollars go from the right pocket of the industry to the left pocket of the industry,” says Ernie Niemi, president of Natural Resource Economics. “Timber companies are serving their own interests.”
OFRI executive director Paul Barnum rejects criticism that OFRI is simply a mouthpiece for the industry. He says the agency’s advertising plays an important role in educating new Oregon residents. “We’re not making a statement that the laws are good or bad,” explains Barnum, a former communications director for Weyerhaeuser, a publicly traded timber company. “We’re making a statement that the laws exist.”
The harvest tax that funds OFRI and its advertisements is allocated by the Legislature and the OFRI board. They’ve repeatedly restricted the money to timber-related programs. That pool of money has been growing.
Revenue from the harvest tax has more than tripled in the past 25 years, reaching an all-time high of almost $15 million a year ago. OFRI’s take of the harvest tax has increased on three occasions.
Meanwhile, the industry’s overall tax contribution to the state has plummeted. InvestigateWest’s analysis found timber companies saved about $72 million last year thanks to the privilege-tax phaseout, even as they contributed more than ever to OFRI.
“The industry is saying, ‘Woe is me, we can’t be forced to pay these taxes any longer because we’re so poor,’” Niemi says. “It’s sort of an astounding argument.”
Enviros and loggers agree on few things. Among their disputes: whether timber companies are paying their fair share of taxes.
The unraveling of the privilege tax began in 1991, when the timber interests made the case that property tax relief for residential and commercial property owners under Measure 5 should be similarly applied to trees. The Republican-controlled 1999 Legislature finalized the phase-out of the tax.
Linc Cannon of the Oregon Forest Industries Council says repeal of the privilege tax was fair.
Since 1972, state law has required timber companies to replant trees after harvest, supporting their argument that timber is a crop—and like other crops, shouldn’t be subject to property tax.
“The big source of confusion is that it takes 30 to 60 years for us to produce our crop,” Cannon says. “The bottom line is, we’re taxed like everyone else.”
Environmental groups want to put timber taxes back on the table as part of a broader struggle over the future of Oregon’s publicly owned forests. Since 2012, Congress has been considering bills that would increase logging on the state’s federally owned public lands as a way to boost timber revenues for rural counties. And last month, the State Land Board approved selling off the 140-square-mile Elliott State Forest to raise money for public schools.
Critics say restoring the privilege tax on private timber companies could provide nearly $50 million a year for schools and $25 million for Oregon counties (assuming the state kept the most recent distribution formula).
OFIC’s Cannon calls it “disingenuous” for environmentalists to blame timber companies for state and county funding woes.
Environmental groups successfully sued to block logging on most public lands in the state, cutting off a key source of revenue for schools and counties.
Cannon says environmentalists want the private timber industry to foot the bill for a problem it didn’t create.
“Why would private forest owners get taxed to make up for declining federal timber harvests?” he says. “Because they both have trees? That’s the only reason for it.”
But as timber companies continue to funnel money into OFRI, even some timberland owners are beginning to question whether spending timber money on ads is good for Oregon.
Sarah Deumling, who manages the 1,300-acre Zena Forest near Salem, is among a group of ecology-minded foresters who disapprove of the agency’s message.
“OFRI aggressively represents a type of forestry that doesn’t represent me,” she says. “I don’t feel good supporting educational work that I think is inadequate and misleading.”
Deumling and fellow forester Peter Hayes, owner of Portland-based Hyla Woods, plan to petition the agency for a tax refund next year, an option they say is permitted under state law.
Deumling and Hayes say the timber industry—led by OFRI—has tried to bend public opinion its way through rose-colored advertising. It’s unclear how well it’s succeeding.
The EPA answered with a resounding “not exactly” this January, when the federal agency determined that Oregon’s logging laws do not adequately protect fish habitat or drinking water. Public opinion appears to be moving in the same direction, if only modestly. In 2012, 79 percent of respondents answered yes to OFRI’s query. In 2013, the number fell to 76 percent. A year later: 71 percent.
Despite the slipping poll numbers, OFRI isn’t giving up on its campaign. The agency’s most recent commercial, titled “Amazing,” touts the state’s logging rules, including the protections for drinking water and wildlife habitat. The commercial aired during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this spring.
“The industry was quite clever,” Hayes says. “They knew that if they could control the narrative, they could control the outcomes.”
Oregon Wild presents a film festival Wednesday, September 9, from 6 pm to 9 pm at the Bijou Art Cinema in Eugene, Oregon
A brief explanation from Oregon Wild’s more detailed page:
The films offered at this event explore current management of private and federal forest lands, the environmental consequences of this management, alternative ways of managing forests, and policy changes needed to protect our health, water, wildlands, and wildlife. Viewed together, they tempt thoughtful conversation about blurred lines, public values, and the future of our forests and all they provide.
This cartoon ran in the Eugene Register-Guard on August 1, 2015. It is by cartoonist Jesse Springer and is available on his website.
By Jeff Barnard, Associated Press
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Board of Forestry on Thursday postponed a decision on updating state logging regulations to keep streams cool enough for salmon.
After four years of consideration, the board had been scheduled to vote in Salem on a new riparian rule for the Oregon Forest Practices Act, mandating just how many trees must be left along small to medium streams on private timberlands in western Oregon.
Department of Forestry spokesman Tony Anderson says the board formed a subcommittee to make recommendations that will be considered sometime this fall.
After hearing from timberland owners trying to minimize logging restrictions, and conservation and sport fishing industry groups trying to maximize protections for salmon, the board decided it needed more time.
The action comes as record hot temperatures and drought have been killing fish.
Richard Whitman, natural resources adviser to Gov. Kate Brown, told the board that it must try to meet the cold water standard to the fullest extent feasible, while taking into account economic considerations.
“Everyone pretty much agrees what is needed to meet the standard,” he said. “The question is what is feasible.”
Current rules require riparian zone buffers of 20 feet on small to medium streams but do not do enough to prevent streams from warming more than 0.54 degrees after logging.
Buffers up to 100 feet are being considered. The bigger the buffers, the more shade and the greater the chance of meeting the standard, but the greater the economic impact on timberland owners.
The Department of Forestry has estimated that imposing buffers up to 100 feet along streams could cost timberland owners up to $227 million in land and timber values.
Federal regulators ruled in January that Oregon logging rules do not sufficiently protect fish and water in western Oregon from pollution caused by clear-cutting too close to streams, runoff form old logging roads, landslides and sites sprayed with pesticides, putting millions of dollars in federal grants in jeopardy.
Conservation groups have been trying to get the board to boost the current buffers of 20 feet to 100 feet for 20 years, said Mary Scurlock of the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition.
She said the various interest groups appear to still be far apart. She added that she felt the board was making progress, and hoped the subcommittee would weed out proposals that have no chance of meeting the state water temperature standard.
Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association told the board fishing gear stores and fishing guides had lost a lot of business this year because record high temperatures and low stream flows from drought have been killing fish and putting those that survive off the bite, and anglers had quit fishing.
Kristina McNitt, president of the Oregon Forest Industries Council, was frustrated by the board’s failure to tackle the issue.
“I’m just mystified about why they need more time,” she said. “Originally, they were going to make a decision in June.”
BEFORE THE BOARD OF FORESTRY
Statement of Mary Scurlock, Oregon Stream Protection Coalition
Agenda Item 2: Developing Riparian Rule Prescriptions
23 July 2015
My name is Mary Scurlock, representing the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition’s 24 fishing industry and conservation member groups united in support of stronger, science-based riparian protection on Oregon’s 10.6 million acres of private forestland.
1) The Board’s legal duty is to “insure to the maximum extent practicable” that the Protecting Coldwater Criterion (PCW) is met. This means the Board must adopt measures that provide a high likelihood (i.e. “insure to the maximum extent”) that the PCW will be attained unless attainment is demonstrably infeasible for the regulated community as a whole.
2) The Board’s discretion with regard to how effective management practices must be to meet its duty is more constrained when dealing with a numeric criterion like the PCW that is specifically designed to limit impacts at the site level than it would be with a more generally applicable ambient standard — as has often been the case when interpreting “maximum extent practicable” in other Clean Water Act contexts.
3) The Board is not empowered to decide that the standard does not need to be fully complied with for reasons other than demonstrated impracticability, nor may it decide that some other, less stringent standard is adequate, or that only “least cost” options should be considered.
4) For buffer sizes, there is a strong scientific basis to guide you: a regional literature review narrowing your choice to either no-harvest buffers or variable retention buffers, and a multimillion dollar study that demonstrates the standard is not currently being met and whose data supports a state-of-the-art analysis of the likely effectiveness of riparian prescriptions. That science tells us that 120 feet buffers are necessary to insure achievement of the PCW to the maximum extent — or virtually 100% of the time. A 100 foot buffer gets us there about 80-85% of the time, and 90 feet limits stream warming to the low levels directed by the PCW only about 50% of the time.
5) None of the most effective buffer size alternatives has been demonstrated to be incapable of being implemented, i.e. impracticable.
6) Given the known and substantial risk to public natural resources posed by continued implementation of current rules, there is no rational basis not to apply buffers meeting the PCW to all of western Oregon.
7) Because there is no non-arbitrary way to ensure that Salmon, Steelhead and Bull Trout (SSBT) reaches are protected from prohibited stream warming caused by logging of upstream, “non SSBT” reaches, and because stream warming limitations are also required in many of these reaches by temperature restoration targets (“TMDLs”), enhanced buffers of at least 100 feet should be extended to all fish-bearing streams in western Oregon.
●Board Duty and Decision Standard. We are extremely concerned that some members of the Board may fundamentally misunderstand their legal duty and overestimate their discretion to choose alternatives that make minor improvements over the status quo, creating the real possibility that a majority of the Board will not see fit to support the best conservation alternative now on the table, much less the stronger one OSPC believes is needed to meet the Protection Coldwater Criterion (PCW). This perception seems to relate to confusion over the Board’s duty to comply with the standard as well as the apparent belief that the Board is empowered to decide that there is no or limited public benefit to meeting the PCW.
The Board’s duty is not met by measures that simply “reduce” exceedances or increase the likelihood that the PCW will be met over the status quo. “Substantial advancement” of the purpose of the rule is a necessary finding under -714, but is not itself a sufficient standard for the Board’s decision. (At least two proposals we know of have claimed that they will reduce violations/improve attainment of the PCW from the status quo as if that is the standard).
Nor is the Board authorized to second-guess the legal or biological need for PCW attainment because that has already been decided by EQC. Specifically, the Board cannot legally substitute judgment for that of the EQC (the sole promulgator of water quality standards in the state of Oregon) and the US Congress (the anti-degradation policy of the Clean Water Act as memorialized in statute and federal rule). Full compliance with the PCW as already been determined to be necessary for protection of the public’s waters in the appropriate forum (EQC, ratified by EPA). See also ORS 527.714 (enforcement savings clause referring to goal of full compliance with water quality goals).
● The primary information the Board should use in making its decision is the Department’s assessment of the prescriptions’ effectiveness to meet the target standard. The reason we spent millions and waited over a decade to get here is because the RipStream study tested BMP effectiveness to meet the PC, so the public has a clear and reasonable expectation that the Board will make its policy decisions consistent with the study results. The most probative information on the table, and that which should be given the greatest weight, is the ODF predictive model based on RipStream.
The Board should not even be CONSIDERING rule changes that the ODF effectiveness analysis does not demonstrate are adequate to prevent the prohibited stream warming. This means only the 90, 100 and 120 foot no cut, the state FMP should even be on the table at this point UNLESS one of these is really not feasible, which has not been shown. In our considered view, the scope of the Board’s discretion does not include alternatives for which there is no rational basis to find the target water quality criterion actually is met with a reasonably high likelihood.
There is a great deal of information on the table now of highly variable quality that is not directly related to maximizing the effectiveness of management measures to “insure” the standard is met as the law requires. Information that the Board should NOT be distracted by includes: the likelihood of active wood placement, the unquantified putative benefits of active management to control stocking” to meet DFC, ODF’s opinion of the “marginal return” of additional riparian protection, the “fish response” information, the statistical “risk of extrapolation” of RipStream results to ecoregions outside the Coast Range – none of which relate to the effectiveness of measures to meet the PCW. Even the landowner economic impact information is only relevant to exclude an alternative as impracticable if it shows jeopardy to the industry or sector as a whole and to identify the least burdensome alternatives.
Information that has been given relatively less attention than it should have been in the Department’s policy framework most notably includes: 1) the risk of not meeting the PCW posed by a failure to protect both an inadequate portion of upstream reaches but also upstream contributing tributaries; and; 2) the complexities of the implementation burden created by tiering protection to SSBT reaches which could lead to incomplete and/or inefficient application of the new rule.
● All the ODF rule packages fall short on buffer size and stream extent. None of the ODF rule packages outlined in the staff report is sufficient on its face to fulfill the Board’s legal duty to meet the PCW to the maximum extent practicable. Only the no cut in Package 1 — referred to as the “Minimize Temperature Concerns” (90 foot buffers) should even be considered to be in the ballpark, but this package doesn’t really “minimize” temperature concerns or “maximize” attainment of the standard. According to ODF analysis these buffers would still allow violation of the PCW at approximately 50% of sites. Further, the covered stream extent is Salmon, Steelhead and Bull Trout reaches plus an admittedly arbitrary and insufficient 1000 feet the Department’s review of the best available science clearly illustrates that this distance is not adequate to prevent downstream warming in violation of the standard. The literature reviewed by ODF and DEQ illustrates that 1000 is median distances that does not cover more than half the sites and observations at some sites show that recovery may not happen for as much as two miles. Further, ODF does not adequately address risks posed by failure to include adequate upstream extent of SSBT, and does not propose in any of its 3 packages to protect tributaries. In our view, the most logical way for ODF’s riparian rules to account for the wide variability in stream dynamics is to provide additional riparian protection to the full extent of the fish-bearing network.
● The staff report gives almost no attention to the practical implementation difficulties associated with tiering riparian protection to Salmon, Steelhead and Bull Trout (SSBT) reaches. Detailed rules and agency guidance will be needed to ensure credible and consistent implementation. We have previously provided an analysis of implementation concerns, including: 1) the need to create, publish and maintain a new stream classification database; 2) inadequacy of current rules and guidance for determining natural barriers to accurately determine the extent of SSBT distribution; 3) inadequacy of ODF’s current fish survey protocol; 4) inadequacy of ODFW fish distribution maps as the foundation for a new regulatory scheme and the source of consistently reliable basis for determining SSBT distribution; 5) questions about the adequacy of stream classification information sources and whether ODF or ODFW is the appropriate custodian of the SSBT database given concerns about expertise, capacity to conduct rapid updates and funding.