Streamside, or riparian, buffer rules ensure areas along streams are shaded and provide a blueprint for where to leave trees during a timber harvest. Existing since the 1980s, these rules were revised in the 1990s to further protect water quality. In 2002, through the Ripstream Analysis, the Oregon Department of Forestry and Department of Environmental Quality analyzed Forest Practices Act streamside shade buffer rules to assess alignment with the federal Clean Water Act. The research showed that following FPA rules didn’t meet the Protecting Cold Water standard, which directs that human activity should not raise stream temperature more than 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit where salmon, steelhead, and bull trout are present.
As the board analyzed the current rules, it also recognized successes, including:
•$100 million voluntarily invested to restore streams and salmon habitat through Oregon’s Plan for Salmon & Watersheds
•Stream water quality rated 65 percent good or excellent
•Some of the best Coho rearing habitat on private forestlands
While most everyone agreed the decision was not easy, the board reviewed and weighed the multiple proposals’ merits and adopted a policy believed to provide the least-burdensome impact to landowners while also meeting the Protecting Cold Water standard.
In 2012, the Board of Forestry (Board) directed the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) to begin the rule analysis process that could lead to revision of the riparian protection standards to increase the maintenance and promotion of shade on small and medium fish streams. This decision was based on ODF monitoring results that showed rules falling short of the protecting cold water (PCW) criterion, a water quality temperature standard adopted by the Environmental Quality Commission (OAR 340-041-0028(11)).
In November 2015, the Board voted to adopt new stream protection rules for small and medium salmon, steelhead, or bull trout streams in the Coastal, South Coast, Interior, and Western Cascade geographic regions. The Board also determined that the adopted package met the requirements of ORS 527.765.
The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has revised and added proposed rule language for additional resource protection requirements on small and medium sized Salmon, Steelhead, and/or Bull Trout (SSBT) streams located in western Oregon. The new requirements also extend up within the immediate harvest unit above the end of mapped SSBT streams, along the main stem of fish-bearing streams.
The amendment of OAR 629-600-0100 includes definitions for Salmon, Steelhead, and Bull Trout and definitions to classify Type SSBT streams. The amendment of OAR 629-635-0200 describes how to designate Type SSBT streams and SSBT use. The proposed rules also provide information on when the rules become effective and updates to beneficial use designations. OAR 629-640 has been removed and renumbered to 629-642 with the inclusion of additional SSBT stream rules. The adoption of OAR 629-642-0105 requires additional riparian overstory protection on SSBT streams. The proposed rule requires remaining trees in the riparian management area be well distributed and describes alternative prescriptions. The adoption OAR 629-642-0110 allows relief to be provided to landowners who meet applicable criteria.
Nine joint open houses and public hearings regarding this rulemaking process will be held:
November 1, 2016 4 pm – 7 pm Oregon Garden, NREC Room, Silverton
November 3, 2016 4pm – 7pm Keizer Civic Community Center, Keizer
November 9, 2016 4pm – 7pm Douglas County Fairgrounds, Roseburg
November 10, 2016 4pm – 7pm Coos History Center, Coos Bay
November, 15 2016 4pm – 7pm Florence Event Center, Florence
November, 16 2016 4pm – 7pm Clatsop Community College, Astoria
December 6, 2016 4pm – 7pm Bob Keefer Center (formerly, Willamalane Center,) Springfield
December 7, 2016 4pm – 7pm Forest Grove Community Aud., Forest Grove
January 30, 2017 4pm – 7pm Ecotrust, Suite 200, Portland
Written comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. on March 1st, 2017. Submissions should be addressed to: Private Forest SSBT Rulemaking, Oregon Department of Forestry, 2600 State Street, Oregon 97310; or send to RiparianRule@oregon.gov
or via fax (503) 945-7490.
Comments received by 5:00 p.m. on March 1st, 2017 will be compiled and incorporated into information presented to the Board of Forestry for their review. From this information and the prior work with this rulemaking process, the Board of Forestry will decide whether to approve this proposed rulemaking package. The Department is planning to present this information at the April Board of Forestry meeting. The Department will propose an effective date of July 1, 2017. The Oregon Department of Forestry requests public comment on whether other options should be considered for achieving the rule's substantive goals while reducing the negative economic impact of the rule on business.