• Sun. May 22nd, 2022

The deal would reorganize the management of private forests in Oregon

ByJanice K. Merrill

Oct 30, 2021

SALEM, Oregon (AP) – An agreement has been reached between lumber and environmental groups to overhaul the management of 10 million acres of private forests in Oregon.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that the agreement, announced Saturday by Gov. Kate Brown’s office, concludes more than a year of negotiations to develop a plan to strengthen protection for vulnerable fish and wildlife while protecting the capacity of the timber industry to be exploited.

Friday was the deadline for both sides to reach consensus, abandon the process, or move the deadline.

“Today’s historic agreement is a perfect example of the Oregon Way – coming together at the table to find common ground, for the mutual benefit of all of us,” Brown said in a statement. . Jim James of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association also praised the compromise.

“We have been able to put an end to the contentious situations that we have had in the past and we have had an ongoing agreement to move forward,” said James.

Speaking on behalf of the Timber Coalition, Adrian Miller of Florida-based forest products company Rayonier said Saturday’s deal gives loggers a sense of security for the future.

“I think we’re all very proud to be part of a new era of forestry in Oregon,” Miller said.

In 2020, the parties each planned a series of competing ballot measures that could have turned into a costly political fight.

Environmental groups have called for strict limits on aerial pesticide spraying and better protection of forest waters. Meanwhile, the lumber industry demanded compensation for private landowners when state regulations limited their ability to operate.

Instead, Brown pushed the two sides to negotiate.

Representatives from the lumber industry and environmental groups have been tasked with setting the conditions for pursuing a statewide habitat conservation plan to protect fish, wildlife and the quality of the land. ‘water. A Habitat Conservation Plan, or HCP, is a tool that allows practices such as logging or irrigation to continue while minimizing damage to wildlife habitat.

Saturday’s deal sets in motion what could be a long process, if not years, to develop, approve and pass an HCP into law and begin its implementation.

“There is no doubt that there will be challenges ahead,” said Sean Stevens, executive director of the Oregon Wild Conservation Group. “But I think this agreement provides a different kind of foundation than we’ve ever had before to meet these challenges ahead.”

The next step will be to introduce a bill to the Oregon Legislature to make significant changes to the Forest Practices Act to protect the banks and banks of waterways, improve forest roads and allow adaptive management of private forests.

Next, the state will pursue an HCP, which will require a rule-making process overseen by the Oregon Forestry Council. After that, state leaders can present the plan to federal regulators.

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