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E-News Fall 2012

Louise Solliday to retire

Land Board will name new director at their Oct. 9 meeting


After more than six years with the Department of State Lands, Director Louise Solliday announced her retirement, effective Nov. 1 of this year. Her tenure at DSL has been marked by a commitment to improving customer service, streamlining processes, and proactively managing state land assets. A few highlights of her career at the agency include: 
  • A stronger focus on managing real estate assets for revenue generation. The original asset management plan was revised in 2006, and another revision - the Real Estate Asset Management Plan - was approved by the Land Board in February 2012.
  • Removing the New Carissa wreck in 2008, nearly a decade after it crashed on the Oregon shore near Coos Bay, and six years after a jury in Coos County awarded the state $25 million to remove it.  
  • Updating administrative rules and streamlining the removal-fill permit process to make it easier for the public, while maintaining environmental standards.
  • Creating a sustainable plan for Common School Fund distributions to schools.
  • A fierce commitment to customer service, and making it an agency priority for staff to return phone calls and emails promptly. Customer surveys​ have shown solid progress in this area since Louise came to DSL. 
Louise started at DSL in March 2006 as the assistant director of the Wetlands and Waterways Conservation Division, and was appointed director in May. When she served in Gov. John Kitzhaber’s previous administration, Louise was the Land Board assistant, and was the driving force behind the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds. 

From 1996 to 2002 she served as Kitzhaber’s natural resource and watershed policy advisor. Louise also served in Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s natural resource office. “I have had a wonderful career in state government in Oregon, and have had the pleasure of working with a wide variety of passionate, articulate Oregonians,” Louise said. “While I will really miss my colleagues here at DSL and the customers we serve, I am looking forward to trying new things that I could never fit into my schedule while working.” Louise plans to learn Spanish, travel, volunteer with youth programs, and enjoy Oregon’s outdoors when retired. 

"Louise has been a key member of my team, serving in a number of the toughest positions in state government during challenging times," said Governor Kitzhaber. "Her most recent tenure at State Lands brought stability and professionalism to an important agency with a diverse set of responsibilities. Throughout her career, she has been committed to Oregon's citizens, our environment, and to work that makes the state a better place to live. While I hate to see her go, I wish her the best on her well-earned retirement." ​

During her time at DSL, Louise became well versed on ecosystem services and the carbon credit market as a potential revenue source for state lands. She also led budget planning for agencies mapped to the Healthy Environment outcome area in the new 10-year planning process.

"State government is losing a great person,” said Secretary of State Kate Brown. “I have truly enjoyed working with Louise over the years, both when I was in the Legislature, and now as a member of the Land Board. I am amazed at her ability to juggle diverse issues and have nothing but respect for her many talents. We will continue to benefit from all Louise has done for public education and the environment. I wish her the very best."

State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, who worked closely with Louise on Common School Fund investments, said, “Oregonians have been lucky to have Louise Solliday, who was never afraid to tackle the difficult issues at State Lands. Her goal in managing the Common School Fund has always been to preserve its long-standing contribution to public schools, and to maintain its stability for generations to come. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her in my tenure on the Land Board.”​

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Agency proposes 2013-15 budget and legislative concepts

Budget: For the next two-year funding period, starting July 1, 2013, DSL has proposed a budget of $39.5 million, which is $23.9 million less than the current biennial budget. The primary differences are a $19 million loan from the Common School Fund to the Department of Revenue for the Senior Property Tax Deferral Program, and funds for South Slough land acquisitions this biennium. The proposed budget maintains current staffing levels.

DSL’s “program option packages” – or requests for new funds or budget changes – include the following:

  • Additional research and legal representation for the Portland Harbor Superfund Site cleanup ($500,000 in General Funds; $1,000,000 in Other Funds – Common School Fund).
  • Capital improvements at the DSL headquarters building in Salem ($300,000 in Other Funds – CSF).
  • Budget limitation to pay property taxes in Lane County for DSL-owned property in Eugene ($28,000 in Other Funds – CSF; the taxes are included in the lessee’s lease payments).
  • Reclassifying three positions at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (no funding impact – funds would be moved from other budget categories to pay salary increases).
  • Adding a stewardship position at the South Slough to monitor long-term restoration projects, initiate new projects and make preparations for the implementation of the Reserve’s forest management plan ($153,493 in Other Funds – CSF).

Legislative: DSL’s legislative concepts include:

  • Making mineral rights releases simpler on certain lands.
  • Adjusting wetland mitigation pricing to reflect regional averages.
  • Amending the Common School Fund statutes to allow the fund to be operated more like an endowment.
  • Removing provisions in statute for DSL to manage university loan funds.

More information about DSL’s 2013-15 budget request is available on the DSL website or by contacting Cynthia Wickham, assistant director, Finance and Administration Division.  


 
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404 assumption planning continues

​Projects impacting Oregon wetlands and waterways often require both a state removal-fill permit, issued by the Department of State Lands (DSL), and a federal permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). The Corps administers the federal program under Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act.

The federal Clean Water Act has a provision enabling states to assume Section 404 regulation, provided the state has a waterways and wetlands regulatory program equivalent to the federal program. DSL has been working with an advisory stakeholder work group since January to examine the benefits and risks of 404 assumption. The group has met a number of times this year.  

Much work remains to be done on process specifics, particularly concerning Endangered Species Act and cultural resource compliance. The process details are necessary for stakeholders to understand how 404 assumption will affect their interests and for DSL to obtain stakeholder support. The agency has submitted legislative and budget concepts for 404 assumption to the Governor’s Office in preparation for the 2013 legislative session. However, the Department may need to push back the timeline to allow development of process details.

Additional information, including meeting notes and Web links, are available on the DSL website. The project manager is Eric Metz.​

 
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Water permits guide updated

The State Water-Related Permits User Guide was originally developed in 2008 by the Water-Related Permit Process Improvement Team (WRPPIT), a consortium of eight state agencies involved in water-related activities and permitting. The guide was updated in 2012 with generous assistance from the Oregon Department of Water Resources.

Its purpose is to provide a comprehensive, yet simple reference for regulatory and non-regulatory programs that influence permitting of projects in wetlands and waterways.

More information about the guide is available from Kirk Jarvie at DSL.

 
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Waterway rulemaking updates​​​​​​​​​​​

Waterway leasing and marine reserves: The Land Management Division is wrapping up rulemaking on both these topics, and will ask for Land Board approval of the draft rules at their Oct. 9 public meeting. The public comment period has closed for both sets of rules.

Originally begun in 2010, the waterway rules were put on hold after considerable public input demonstrated the need for more outreach. In addition, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 600, which made a number of waterway uses and structures eligible for a free registration, and made a change to the preference right for waterway leases up for renewal.

The department assembled a rules advisory committee and held public meetings to get public input into the rule changes, which included an increase in fees for some authorizations that will be implemented over a five-year period.

The marine reserve rules provide for the establishment of:

  • A marine reserve and two marine protected areas at Cape Falcon;
  • A marine reserve and three marine protected areas at Cascade Head; and
  • A marine reserve, two marine protected areas and a seabird protection area at Cape Perpetua.

The Department has also added a definition for “seabird protection area” to accommodate the establishment of such an area at Cape Perpetua.

Waterway remediation and restoration rulemaking: Beginning in December 2011, the department established an advisory committee to help write new rules related to cleanup projects on state-owned submerged and submersible lands. The primary driver of the rulemaking is cleanup in the Portland Harbor Superfund Site, but the rules will apply statewide.

The committee has met monthly, and wrapped up their deliberations in September. Their goal was to prepare draft rules for public review, according to project manager Chris Castelli. “The committee has been very thoughtful, pragmatic and diligent in helping us draft these rules,” Castelli said. The group discussed what types of authorizations DSL should issue for environmental cleanup, as well as how to value compensation to the state for use of our submerged lands, he said. “While committee members often had widely varying points of view, we were able to work together well to come to a consensus to move the final draft forward for public review.”

More information on land management rulemaking is available from DSL’s senior policy specialist Chris Castelli. 


 
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Customer survey shows continued improvement

Fourth agency survey conducted in March 2012

Customers in five program areas served by DSL were asked last spring to provide feedback on the agency’s customer service, scoring the agency’s timeliness, ability to provide services correctly the first time, helpfulness, staff expertise, availability of information, and overall customer service. About 5,000 surveys were sent via email and mail to land management, wetlands and waterways, unclaimed property, South Slough, and agency partner customers.

“The good news is we keep inching forward on our ratings,” said DSL director Louise Solliday, who has made improving customer service a high priority during her tenure here. “I’m very pleased our overall customer service was rated excellent or good by 84 percent of our customers this year, which is up from 72 percent during 2007, our first year of measuring.”

Negative feedback generally was related to little or no personal contact with agency staff, perceived unfair regulations, and regulatory bureaucracy. Positive comments focused on DSL staff’s professionalism and the ease with which staff help customers navigate regulatory processes.

More information on the survey is available on the DSL website.​ ​

 
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South Slough receives NOAA funding for ocean acidification research

Ocean acidification is widely regarded as an early manifestation of coastal climate change. To help understand how this affects estuaries (where rivers meet the ocean), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently awarded a grant to scientists at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve to study the phenomenon. The funds will allow the Reserve to purchase a sensor that measures carbon dioxide gas to study correlations between water quality parameters, carbon dioxide, and acidity (pH) levels in the estuary.

pH is a measure of how acidic or basic a substance is (the concentration of hydrogen ions) and ranges from 0 (acid) to 14 (basic). The pH of the ocean is around 8.1; however, the pH of estuaries is much more variable, ranging from 5.5 to 9.0. pH is critical to life, and many important biochemical reactions and very small changes in pH can have detrimental effects.

As the ocean becomes more acidic (i.e., pH is decreasing), the pH level within the South Slough is increasing, said Ali Helms, research scientist at the South Slough. This phenomenon is the opposite of what might be expected, Helms said. “The unusual trend in pH dynamics in the South Slough estuary is both puzzling and interesting. Recently, the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery in Netarts Bay [about 200 miles north of the South Slough] suffered losses in oyster larvae production due to rising ocean acidity,” she said. “Our increasing pH trend in the South Slough suggests that natural populations of oysters in Coos Bay/South Slough may be buffered from the low-pH ocean water.”  This implication is important for additional research projects at the reserve, including native oyster research and restoration, Helms added.

The ocean acidification research complements NOAA’s existing investment in long-term monitoring of the South Slough estuary, Helms said. The South Slough is one of 28 other National Estuarine Research Reserves nationwide, and the first established after passage of the Coastal Zone Management Act in 1972. All reserves operate with support from NOAA and state partners - in Oregon, the Department of State Lands.

More information about the research project is on the South Slough website.​


 


 
 
 Contact Information
Julie Curtis​
Communications Manager
Oregon Department of State Lands
775 Summer St NE, Suite 100
Salem, OR 97301-1279
503-986-5298
julie.curtis@state.or.us
www.oregonstatelands.us​​​​​​

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