Today, Governor Kate Brown announced a historic agreement between conservation groups and timber companies that is the first step in a process that will see the most significant update of Oregon’s Forest Practices Act in decades.
The agreement includes
- Legislation during the short session to comprehensively reform aerial pesticide spraying practices by the logging industry, including a modern notification system for forest communities, no-spray zones around homes and schools, and buffers along streams and drinking water sources
- After the passage of spray reform, both the logging industry and conservation groups will stand down on ballot measures for the 2020 election
- both parties, together with the State of Oregon, agree to pursue a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries for threatened and endangered species that will result in modernization and strengthening of the Oregon Forest Practices Act
Sean Stevens, Executive Director of Oregon Wild and one of the principal negotiators of this agreement, released the following statement:
Today’s announcement has been decades in the making. It is a direct result of the thousands and thousands of Oregonians all across our state who have written letters, made phone calls, attended hearings, and gathered signatures to demand action to modernize our antiquated logging rules.
When our state first passed the Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA) in 1972, it was considered a groundbreaking conservation measure. Sadly, while our scientific understanding of forests, salmon, and wildlife have evolved greatly over the last half-century, the OFPA has not. As states like Washington and California have moved forward with logging rules that better protect clean drinking water, wildlife habitat, and public health and safety, Oregon has fallen further and further behind.
As a result of this inaction, Oregonians and the environment we hold dear have been left with struggling salmon species, bitter conflicts over chemical spraying and logging practices, and growing alarm from rural Oregon communities about the management of their drinking watersheds.
The agreement outlined today marks a departure from what has been acknowledged by both conservation organizations and the timber industry as an unacceptable status quo. Reaching this point has been difficult, and required long hours of negotiation, compromise, and working together in good faith. As a result, the agreement envisions significant gains for clean water, healthy forests, and community transparency around logging practices.
However, this agreement is only the first step in a longer journey. Conservation of Oregon’s forests, and communities that live around them and rely upon them, is not guaranteed at the end of this process. It will require significant work over the next two years to modernize forest rules and secure a lasting legacy that benefits all Oregonians.
It is also important to acknowledge the hard work of the citizen activists, organizers, and scientists who have been calling out for change for decades. Without those voices, reaching this point would not have been possible. Their efforts have been an inspiration to Oregon Wild and the larger conservation community, and their continued activism and involvement will drive the conversation and work around the conservation of Oregon’s forests and waters over the next two years of this process and far beyond.