CCAA Signing Event
March 27, 2015
Good afternoon, and thank you all for coming together to recognize this important achievement.
Now, at first glance, this might seem to be an opportunity to recognize the importance of the continued good health of the sage grouse, and it is. But today, we recognize another important achievement: People coming together to solve problems.
Instead of factions and silos, we have here today robust evidence of collaboration on many levels. Just looking around me, I see ranchers, conservationists, people involved in for-profit enterprise, people involved in non-profit enterprise, representatives of federal, state and local governments, women and men, Republicans and Democrats.
For our distinguished out-of-state visitors, this is what is known as The Oregon Way.
The Oregon Way is how Oregonians roll up their sleeves and work together to get things done. The Oregon Way engages stakeholders in developing a shared vision, and empowers them to bring that vision to life.
Today, The Oregon Way has brought about a plan that not only ensures the well-being of a small bird who makes its home in the high desert of Central Oregon, but also the well-being of the people and communities who share that home. The plan advances the principles of sustainability to include sustaining the well-being of our rural communities; the health of our state’s economy; and ensuring the healthy future we want for our children and grandchildren.
Together, we have made a commitment to a sustainable environment.
The actions that will be advanced under the Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances are the same actions Oregon needs to take to address major threats to our state’s sage grouse population: Conifer encroachment, exotic grass invasion, and wildfire risk. Taking these actions helps sage grouse habitat but also many other species. And, it will promote livestock grazing and the health of the range in a way that sustains human and non-human life throughout sagebrush country.
Together, we have made a commitment to the economic vitality of rural Oregon.
The Agreements also help create jobs. New hires will be brought on to restore the sage grouse habitat with native species. Jobs will be secure and futures a bit more certain now that ranches know they are free from regulation if they take steps now to stem invasive vegetation. One type of invasive vegetation has spawned a new industry. Juniper is living a second life as fuel for biomass facilities; as stylish furniture; even in cocktail glasses in the form of gin. Cheers!
Together, we are demonstrating The Oregon Way.
To ensure that our way endures, I am very excited to advance more than $4 million in the Governor’s budget in support of actions that achieve needed benefits to rangeland health and that also help share in the effort to advance the implementation of these Agreements.
I would like to thank a few of you who are taking the bold steps to ensure our way of life in Oregon.
• I greatly appreciate the engagement of Judge Grasty, Commissioner Kestner and other county commissioners and county planners in this effort. You are on the front lines. We recognize that. Your help working with the state to strengthen our regulatory backstops is not easy. Given the foundation we have to build on, I am confident we can get there and that this is the right thing to do … not just by sage grouse but for the health of communities and economies in eastern Oregon.
• Marty Suter and her staff and board members with the Harney Soil & Water Conservation District—as well as other SWCD’s for being proactive and engaging so meaningfully with our ranching community.
• Ron Alvarado and his staff and Jeremy Maestes with NRCS for an unprecedented and unrivalled partnership effort through the Sage Grouse Initiative and the Regional Conservation Partnerhsip Program.
• John O’Keefe, Jerome Rosa, Bob Skinner and the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association for a proactive vision to protecting the western way of life and doing so in concert with habitat stewardship.
• Tony Svecar, Chad Boyd and the crew at the Burns Agricultural Research Station. We have a real gem in the desert in that research station, and their work and engagement has been and will remain of critical importance.
• The Nature Conservancy and the rest of our other conservation partners—for not just coming to the table but bringing very meaningful contributions to it.
• And last but not least our partners in the USFWS and BLM. The agencies have been under tremendous workload pressure, and there has never before been anything like this Sage Grouse planning effort across the West. You are valuable partners in making an all-lands approach work, and your proactive engagement of the SageCon effort and advancement of CCA’s and CCAA’s demonstrates a solution-oriented approach that is greatly appreciated.
I know this issue is challenging, and tackling these threats in Oregon isn’t easy. But there are opportunities here. Not just in jobs tied to habitat work but in securing an approach that will enhance the resilience of communities and advance a path that offers economic opportunities in rural Oregon. Without a strong rural Oregon, the whole state suffers. Together, we can move all of Oregon forward – it is the Oregon Way.