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Forestry Board to consider fire protection, tour eastside forestlands November 7-8
News Release
October 24, 2012
Contact: Rod Nichols, 503-945-7425, rnichols@odf.state.or.us
Wildfire protection – including proposed system reforms, evolving national policies, and a recap of the 2012 fire season – will be the focus of the state Board of Forestry’s November 7th meeting in John Day.
The board will also continue its work to refine stream-protection rules under Oregon’s Forest Practices Act, and to adjust its land classification system for state-owned forests to more clearly indicate which lands are currently managed with an emphasis on conservation values.
The board also plans a community social the evening of November 7th, and a field tour November 8th for a first-hand look at challenges and opportunities in public and privately owned eastside forests.
All events are open to the public.
The board meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. in the Grant County Fairgrounds pavilion, 411 NW Bridge St., in John Day. A general public comment period is scheduled for shortly after 9, and public comment on specific agenda items will be received as the board takes them up.
A focus on fire - The board will receive an update on its Wildfire Protection Act, a legislative and budget proposal that would modify Oregon’s fire protection system to:
  • Reallocate some landowner dollars now used to fight large, costly fires to bolster up-front firefighting capacity, so that fewer fires grow large.
  • Phase in 50-50 public-private sharing of large-fire costs that landowners have paid fully in most years. This sharing, already present in other aspects of the fire protection system, acknowledges the public benefits of healthy forests, and the importance of wildfire protection to public safety.
  • Address problems with affordability of fire protection on lower-productivity forestland – a factor that can lead to conversion of these lands to non-forest use, with permanent loss of forest benefits.
In addition, Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) staff will update the board on development of a new national wildfire strategy with goals that include healthy, resilient forest landscapes, communities well-prepared to address wildfire issues, and improved fire suppression response.
Staff will also update the board on the 2012 fire season, including highlighting the successes and challenges experienced by wildfire agencies and ranchers in eastern Oregon, where fires burned large expanses of rangeland. The presentation will include an overview of the policy framework for rangeland protection associations, non-profit, locally governed landowner groups organized to provide fire protection in portions of eastern Oregon.
Oregon’s largest fire department, ODF protects 16 million acres – about half of Oregon’s forestland base. The protected acres are primarily privately owned, but also include state-owned and other non-federal public lands, as well as U.S. Bureau of Land Management forests in western Oregon.
Other agenda highlights:
Streamside protection rule analysis update – At the April board meeting, ODF staff presented a timeline for analysis of standards for protecting small and medium fish-bearing streams in western Oregon during timber harvest and other operations on private forestlands. At the November meeting, the board will continue its work with a review of the definition of “maximum extent practicable” as the phrase applies to the streamside protection rule analysis.
Rule amendment for conservation areas on state forests – Staff will seek board approval to proceed with a rule amendment process to add a “high-value conservation” designation to the system used to classify state-owned forestlands. This does not change management on the ground, but seeks to more clearly indicate which portions of the landscape are currently managed with an emphasis on wildlife habitat or other conservation values.
The public is invited to a gathering from 6-8 p.m. November 7th in the pavilion at the Grant County Fairgrounds, 411 N.W. Bridge Street, John Day. The board will continue its tradition of recognizing a community member for long-term contributions to sustainable forestry and healthy communities. November’s honored guest will be John Shelk, managing director of Ochoco Lumber Company.
The November 8th forest tour will begin with a briefing at 8 a.m. in the pavilion at the fairgrounds. Members of the public wishing to accompany the board on the tour are asked to bring their lunch and provide their own transportation.
The Board of Forestry consists of seven citizens nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Oregon Senate. Board functions include appointing the state forester, providing broad oversight of ODF, setting management direction for state-owned forests, adopting rules governing timber harvest and other practices on private forestland, and promoting sustainable management of Oregon’s 30 million-acre forestland base.
For more information, visit www.oregonforestry.gov. Agenda materials for the November meeting are available through the 2012 “Meeting Schedules” link.
Accommodations for people with disabilities, and special materials, services or assistance can be arranged by calling ODF’s Public Affairs Office, at (503) 945-7200, at least 48 hours before the meeting.