Gov. Kate Brown announced in a press release late last month, that an agreement between private forestry representatives, small forestland owners, conservation leaders and fishing organizations resulted in “a historic proposal for new protections for sensitive species on over 10 million acres of forestland in Oregon.”
Measures agreed to by those parties will have to be ratified by the Oregon Legislature through amendments to the Forest Practices Act.
“Today’s historic agreement is a perfect example of the Oregon way –– coming together at the table to find common ground, to the mutual benefit of us all,” Brown said. “Together, this agreement will help to ensure that Oregon continues to have healthy forests, fish, and wildlife, as well as economic growth for our forest industry and rural communities, for generations to come.”
According to the press release, negotiating parties agreed to riparian buffers for streams, rivers and bodies of water; steep slopes protection to minimize erosion and protect habitat; an approach moving forward to improve forest roads; and a path forward to make adjustments and adaptation to forest practices in the future.
Background on the agreement, according to the press release from the governor’s office:
In February of 2020, Gov. Brown brokered an agreement between numerous conservation and fishing groups and timber and forest products entities to abandon a ballot initiative in exchange for legislation supporting collaboratively developed changes to forest practices. This agreement, called the Private Forest Accord, led to bipartisan legislation passed in June 2020, which codified the accord, funded the negotiating process now underway and enacted a set of reforms to the Forest Practices Act, some of which went into effect Jan. 1. The new laws addressed aerial applications of pesticides on forestland within 300 feet of homes, schools and drinking water, and created a new, first-in-the-nation real-time neighbor notification and reporting requirement.
On Jan. 12, parties began a series of meetings in which they discussed proposed changes to forest practices, pursuing a statewide Habitat Conservation Plan from federal agencies for threatened and endangered species, which would provide more regulatory certainty for landowners and long-term conservation benefits to designated wildlife species. The parties worked intensively throughout the year towards formalizing an agreement to bring before the legislature.
Brown’s office worked with signatories to identify the negotiating teams and appointed mediator Peter Koehler. Negotiations were also assisted by Peter Harkema, from Oregon Consensus.
The conservation and fishing representatives are Bob Van Dyk (Wild Salmon Center), Sean Stevens (Oregon Wild), Chrysten Lambert (Trout Unlimited), Bob Sallinger (Portland Audubon), Joseph Vaile (Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center), and Dr. Kelly Burnett (aquatic scientist). Also joining in the agreement are Beyond Toxics, Cascadia Wildlands, Northwest Guides and Anglers, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition, The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Rogue Riverkeeper and Umpqua Watersheds.
For the timber sector, the representatives are Adrian Miller (Rayonier), Diane Meyers (Weyerhaeuser), Cameron Krauss (Seneca Sawmill Company), Heath Curtiss (Hampton Lumber), Eric Geyer (Roseburg Forest Products), and Jim James (Oregon Small Woodlands Association). Also joining in the agreement are Hancock Natural Resource Group, Lone Rock Resources, Greenwood Resources, Campbell Global, Starker Forests, and Port Blakely.
In addition to taking up changes in the legislature, the state will submit the proposal for consideration by NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a Habitat Conservation Plan.