Forest Policy Briefs
by Rex Storm, Forest Policy Manager
Associated Oregon Loggers
Feds Reject Coastal Oregon Forestry: The US Environmental Protection Agency and NOAA Fisheries Service in January disapproved Oregon’s coastal nonpoint pollution program. As expected since a 2013 environmental lawsuit ruling, EPA and NOAA attacked Oregon’s forest practices rules, claiming small salmon streams and landslide-prone areas are not sufficiently protected from logging, spraying, and forest road runoff impacts. The OR Board of Forestry is working aggressively to defend Oregon’s forest regulations, amid EPA and NOAA pressure to tighten forest practices rules.
Congress to Connect Payments and Timber: US Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) is drafting legislation to reform federal forest policies, which would increase both timber harvest and related revenues paid to counties. The intent is to re-connect county payments to timber harvest. In 1992, Oregon counties received $253 million directly from federal timber harvest income (‘92 dollars); in 2015, those same counties will receive just $5.9 million. Several cash-strapped OR counties are nearing insolvency, as federal timber payments to county governments and schools has gradually declined since 1990.
Forest Service Rebranding Tabled: News that probably qualifies for the unbelievable basket, the US Forest Service Washington, DC headquarters in early January abandoned its planned $10 million project to “rebrand” itself. The scheme to hire an advertising firm to market the agency to the public was tabled after loud opposition rose from the agency’s 35,000 employees and outside observers. One astute employee said, “A $10 million campaign trying to convince the public we are doing great things without actually doing them will only further damage the Forest Service image.”
Ochoco Lumber Sells Timberland: Ochoco Lumber Co. sold 32,000 acres of timber & rangeland to Stafford Ranches of Fields, OR. Located north of Prineville, the “Foley Butte Block” brought $18.5 million, which Ochoco said would be reinvested in upgrades at its Malheur Lumber Co. sawmill in John Day. While the timberland became unnecessary to supply Ochoco’s former Prineville sawmill, the firm retains 15,000 acres near its John Day mill. Stafford owns ranch properties and plans to manage the acquisition for grazing and timber.