May 24, 2013
The 2013 wildfire season outlook, a report on Oregon’s 2.4 million acres of federal O & C lands, and management of state-owned forestlands will be on the agenda when the Board of Forestry meets June 5 in Salem.
Agenda highlights include:
Wildfire season outlook – Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) fire managers will provide a briefing on the weather outlook for the wildfire season and firefighting preparedness. After an unseasonably early start, fire activity has tapered off for the present. But indicators suggest 2013 will be an above-average season.
The state’s largest fire department, ODF protects about 16 million acres of forestland. Protected lands are primarily private, but also include state-owned lands and, by contract, U.S. Bureau of Land Management forests west of the Cascades.
Management of state-owned forests – A board subcommittee will present to the full board a set of recommendations to address financial viability issues in ODF’s State Forests program, which is funded almost entirely with timber-sale revenue.
The current financial challenge has resulted primarily from weak timber markets during the recession, and a forest management plan that has not met financial expectations since its adoption in 2001. The subcommittee’s recommendations address other potential sources of revenue, alternative business practices, and principles for developing new forest management plans.
The board will also consider amending rule language to more clearly identify lands currently managed primarily for conservation values. The change does not establish new conservation areas or otherwise change management outcomes, but seeks to provide a clearer picture of current land designations under existing forest management plans.
A formal public comment period on the rule language, including hearings in Cannon Beach and Hillsboro, ended on April 19, and the board cannot accept further comment at the June 5 meeting under state administrative procedures.
O & C Report – The board will hear a presentation on the O & C lands, based on an extensive report published by Gov. John Kitzhaber’s office last February. The report explores the history, current management and future options for these 2.4 million acres of western Oregon forests.
The lands were granted to private companies in the 19th century as compensation for construction of a railroad from Portland to California. The O & C name derives from the long-defunct Oregon and California Railroad Co., which was involved in the transactions. The railroad project failed, and the lands eventually returned to federal ownership. Several proposals are pending for future management of these lands.
Smoke management plan update – Fire Program staff will update the board on the periodic review of the Oregon Smoke Management Plan. ODF’s smoke management program seeks to provide maximum opportunity for controlled burning of excess forest fuels during times when wildfire danger is low, while preventing smoke from accumulating in population centers.
District fire protection budgets – The board will review and consider for approval the budgets of forest protection district across the state. These budgets fund day-to-day firefighting and fire prevention activities.
Time and location
The meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. in the ODF Administration Building’s Tillamook Room, at the agency’s Salem headquarters, 2600 State St. The agenda includes a general public comment period shortly after 9 a.m. Public comment on specific agenda items will be received as the board takes them up.
Accommodations for people with disabilities, and special materials, services or assistance can be arranged calling the department’s Public Affairs Office at least 48 hours before the meeting, at (503) 945-7200.
About the board
The Board of Forestry consists of seven citizens nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Oregon Senate. Responsibilities include appointing the state forester, 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.
More information on the board is available at www.oregonforestry.gov
. Background information on the June 5 meeting, including staff reports, is available through the 2013 “Meeting Schedules” link.