REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Forestry MOU Announcement
February 10, 2020
Good morning. I’m delighted to be here today to announce a historic moment of collaboration.
We all know that if we work together, we can make Oregon a better place for everyone. And that’s exactly what is happening here.
About a month ago, a group of CEOs from Oregon’s largest timber companies approached me to help them find a better path forward than fighting the next round of the timber wars at the ballot.
I know this fight has been going on for decades, so I wasn’t terribly optimistic, but I thought we’d give it a try. We brought them together and held a series of conversations.
Over the last four weeks, representatives from the forest industry and major environmental groups have come together to chart a collaborative, science-based course to forest management in Oregon.
This agreement proves that we can build a better future for Oregonians if we work together with a willingness to compromise.
Healthy forests and a vibrant forestry industry are not mutually exclusive. And Oregonians need both for prosperous and sustainable communities.
Today we are releasing a memorandum of understanding, signed by the state’s leading timber companies and environmental organizations.
There are three major components:
First, a central part of this MOU is participation in a mediated process that will seek changes to the Oregon Forest Practices Act. The end goal is to create a statewide habitat conservation plan on all private timberland in the state, so that we can protect our threatened and endangered species and provide certainty for the industry.
A second feature of the MOU is agreement on immediate legislation for the 2020 short session related to pesticide notification and buffers for streams in Southwest Oregon. The legislation will significantly expand protected spray buffers around drinking water, homes, schools and forest streams. It also requires that real-time notification is provided to neighbors who request it when aerial spraying is likely to occur.
In addition, the legislation will extend greater protections on streams that support salmon, steelhead and bull trout in the Rogue/Siskiyou region in Southern Oregon.
Third and finally, both sides have agreed to walk away from forestry-related initiative petitions and related litigation after the passage of the legislation this session.
This agreement is a genuine show of good faith from everyone involved in this issue.
It ensures that all key voices will be heard in the process, including both our vital, small woodland owners and Oregon’s federally recognized Tribes.
All sides have agreed that this process of improving the Oregon Forest Practices Act will be informed by science and driven by science.
This shouldn’t be controversial, but sometimes it is.
In closing, I was in Washington, D.C. yesterday. I had a previously scheduled meeting with the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Vicki Christensen to ask for her support on our wildfire mitigation efforts here in Oregon. We were sitting in her office and she showed me the pen that Teddy Roosevelt used to sign the legislation that created the U.S. Forest Service.
When I shared that we would imminently be announcing this agreement, she expressed her immediate excitement and support.
In the years to come, I hope Oregonians can look back at this historic day with similar reverence, as one that defined the future of our state, our forests, and our rural communities.
Now, I will introduce Greg Miller and Guido Rahr, representatives from the signatories of the MOU, to give a few remarks, and then we’ll take questions.