by Hilary Shohoney—
Pacific Rivers has long been a vocal advocate for comprehensive reform of the Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA), the rules that govern forestry on private forestlands. In 2015 we produced a 30-minute film on the topic that has reached thousands of Oregonians and generated a barrage of comments that were sent to Governor Brown. Thanks to the input of our constituencies, we have now taken the next step towards making reform a reality: Pacific Rivers and the Center for Sustainable Economy have drafted a legislative proposal that will overhaul the OFPA. This week, Representative Holvey introduced this comprehensive reform bill.
Oregon has weaker laws than California, Washington, and Idaho when it comes to protecting rivers, clean water, wildlife, and human health from the impacts of private timber harvest. The OFPA hasn’t changed much since it was implemented in 1972 and its protections fall well below the scientific standards and what has been adopted by the federal government and neighboring states. Compounding the weak laws, economic incentives fail to promote best practices that achieve greatest permanent value of the public trust resources.
The comprehensive reform bill introduced on February 28th, will, among other things, require: large forest landowners to submit Forest Management Plans to provide transparency and accountability to affected stakeholders; address cumulative watershed impacts; establish larger vegetative buffers on rivers, wetlands than currently exist; prohibit clearcuts and the application of pesticides and herbicides in watersheds that provide drinking water; minimize the impacts of roads; prohibitions on logging of sites with high landslide risk; restoration of old growth forests and the protection of Native American cultural sites. In addition, Center for Sustainable Economy has drafted a companion bill that will incentivize carbon sequestration on private forestlands. These two bills can work together to ensure that not only do we have a more sustainable and bright future, but also that timber can be profitable and create living wage jobs for foresters statewide.
We hope that you’re as excited about this next step toward comprehensive reform as we are. The battle for reform is not likely to be an easy road: private timber holders will fight this tooth and nail and state legislators will need to take bold action. With the help of our dedicated supporters we know we can achieve much needed reform and return Oregon to its rightful place as a leader in forest management and conservation.