On October 30th, after ten months of negotiations, a historic agreement between private timber companies and conservation-focused organizations was reached in Oregon. The agreement builds upon Oregon’s Forest Practices Act and will protect more than 10 million acres of salmon and steelhead habitat on private land. This agreement now heads to the Oregon state legislature for ratification, and then Federal agencies will develop a plan under the Endangered Species Act.

“Today’s historic agreement is a perfect example of the Oregon Way––coming together at the table to find common ground, to the mutual benefit of us all,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown. “Together, this agreement will help to ensure that Oregon continues to have healthy forests, fish, and wildlife, as well as economic growth for our forest industry and rural communities, for generations to come. I would like to thank everyone involved for their role in making this agreement a reality today.”

Included in the agreement:

  • Significantly Expanded Riparian Buffers: This would provide many streams in western Oregon with up to 110′ foot buffer from the stream’s bank outwards. “We’re especially pleased with these changes, which promise more wood for fish habitat and other wildlife, cooler water, and a lot of carbon storage, too,” Wild Salmon Center’s Oregon Policy Director Bob Van Dyk says.

  • New Standards for Private Roads: The agreement calls for large landowners to inventory their roads and comply with new standards such as upgrading culverts, providing fish passage, and more effectively prevent runoff from entering waterways. Old roads in disrepair contribute large amounts of sediment into nearby streams, producing harmful effects on fish and other aquatic species.
  • Monitoring and Adaptive Management: Will improve compliance with these new provisions by improving state access to private forestland, for example.
  • Beaver Protections: This well-known, and oftentimes cursed, animal provides essential services for salmon, trout, and cold-water habitats. The agreement language also prohibits commercial trapping of beaver on large private forest ownerships, prioritizes non-lethal strategies for addressing beaver conflicts on forestlands, and establishes that ODF will participate with ODFW in a voluntary relocation program.
  • A New Multi-Million Dollar Fund: To support habitat conservation projects and enhance water quality.

“This historic agreement will give Oregon wild salmon and their home rivers a fighting chance in the face of climate change,” said Wild Salmon Center President and CEO, Guido Rahr. “Wild salmon need cold, clean water to survive and this agreement creates wider streamside buffers that will keep Oregon’s stream network cold in the face of hotter summers. It will work across tens of thousands of miles of streams across the entire private forest landscape in Oregon. I couldn’t be more proud of the hard work that WSC and our conservation partners put in to get this deal done with industry partners. And we thank the Governor for stewarding this leap forward in Oregon forestry.”

For more check out this blog from the Wild Salmon Center.

Cover picture courtesy of Jono Melamed.

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