In testimony before the Oregon’s Board of Forestry, the Governor raised concerns about current conditions facing mill infrastructure, rural communities and habitat health. He outlined a plan to provide more certainty for timber production while improving forest health, water quality and fish and wildlife habitat.
“First, we must view our state forests not in isolation but rather in the context of the larger forest landscape of which they are a part,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “This means that in addition to the management policies set forth by the Board of Forestry for state lands, we must aggressively pursue the latitude to engage in environmentally sound, active management to restore the health of our federal forest lands. And we must develop policies and strategies that will result in logs harvested off private lands being as valuable here in Oregon as they are in Asia. These efforts are priorities for my administration.”
Instead of the “politically-driven see-saw management of these lands which has colored our past,” Governor Kitzhaber described an opportunity to create jobs in rural communities, generate more consistent revenue for communities and promote the recovery of wildlife species by establishing sustainable forest policy.
“My hope and vision centers on creating a path forward that can unify the often competing interests that have divided us in the past.” Governor Kitzhaber said.
The Governor’s charge to the Board includes five elements:
- Strengthening its suite of performance measures to clarify economic, community and environmental outcomes expected from state forests;
- Reexamining the tenets of structure-based management and considering a land allocation approach to provide certainty for conservation and timber production interests;
- Establishing clearly defined conservation areas and timber production areas as part of state forest management;
- Ensuring that forest management adapts and evolves based on the latest data and science;
- Diversifying revenue streams to ensure long-term stability by exploring ecosystem services and other emerging strategies.
Working with the legislature, local communities and federal partners, the Governor has launched a range of initiatives aimed at increasing forest-related jobs this year, including:
- Supporting incentives to encourage the use of woody biomass for energy production;
- Accessing the Governor’s Strategic Reserve Fund to help finance timber stewardship projects in the Malheur National Forest;
- Working with Oregon’s Congressional delegation to extend the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act and put rural communities back to work in the woods; and Successfully fighting to keep woody biomass out of solid waste regulations, freeing up this emerging industry from additional regulation.