View the Draft Western Oregon State Forest Habitat Conservation Plan
Like any landowner, ODF must comply with the federal and state Endangered Species Acts while managing to provide the economic, environmental and social benefits required by the Greatest Permanent Value rule (OAR 629-035-0020). ODF currently achieves this through a process called “take avoidance." This approach requires extensive and costly species surveys, resulting in shifting protections that, over time, is likely to limit the quality and durability of the habitat provided. It also creates more uncertainty around the long-term financial viability of managing state forests for the benefits required by law. An HCP potentially can improve certainty around outcomes for timber harvest, conservation, county revenues, and other public values articulated in greatest permanent value.
The Western Oregon State Forests Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) process seeks to explore an HCP as an opportunity to provide a more holistic and cost-effective way to comply with the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), while managing state forests for economic, environmental and social benefits.
This long-term plan would cover about 640,000 acres of ODF-managed land west of the Cascades, and does not include the Elliott State Forest. It would include conservation strategies for current and likely-to-be-listed species under the ESA, such as the Northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, and the Oregon Coast and Lower Columbia River coho. If an HCP were approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries, ODF would be assured ESA compliance over a 70-year permit term so long as the terms of the HCP are followed. This assurance would create more certainty in harvest levels as well as certainty for perseverance of covered species over the long-term.
For more details on this plan, please see the HCP Frequently Asked Questions.
To date, ODF has hosted meetings open to the public to provide an opportunity for the public, stakeholders, department staff and consultants to share concerns and ideas for improvement. Past meeting presentations are posted on this page under "Resources," and future meeting notices will be posted on this page. These are an opportunity for two-way dialogue between the public, stakeholders, department staff and consultants to share concerns and ideas for improvement. Sign up to receive notifications and updates regarding the HCP process and upcoming meetings.
Upcoming public engagement opportunity: The HCP team will be hosting a virtual meeting open to the public on Wednesday, September 16. More details will be posted here soon. Please RSVP.
The Board of Forestry directed the agency to pursue options for achieving financial viability while increasing conservation outcomes, including pursuit of a programmatic Endangered Species Act compliance tool such as a Habitat Conservation Plan.
The HCP process has 3 phases, with decision points built in for the Board of Forestry to determine if it is in the best interest of the state to continue working toward an HCP. The first phase included a business case analysis to evaluate cost and revenue impacts of pursuing an HCP as an alternative approach to ESA compliance. Based on this analysis, the Board of Forestry directed the Division to continue to Phase 2: Strategy Development and Stakeholder Engagement. Since that decision in Nov. 2018, the Division has been working with state and federal partners to complete Phase 2. In October 2020, the Division will bring forth the results of Phase 2, at which time the Board will be asked to determine if the Division will move to Phase 3: NEPA analysis and continued stakeholder engagement.
ODF recognizes that state and federal wildlife agencies have a vested interested in the development of an HCP, as well as policy technical expertise that would strengthen this long-term regulatory document. As such, the department formed a multi-agency governance structure consisting of a Steering Committee, which provides policy direction and oversight of the HCP process, and a Scoping Team of technical experts charged with developing the conservation strategies to be considered in a potential HCP. Each planning team has representatives from:
- Oregon Department of Forestry
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
- Oregon Department of State Lands
- Oregon State University
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- NOAA Fisheries
ODF convenes these planning teams to get insight and expertise from collaborating agencies. Ultimately, ODF is responsible for developing an HCP and submitting it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries for an Incidental Take Permit. This permit would ensure compliance with the ESA, protection for covered species, and certainty in harvest levels over time.