Monday, April 8, 2013

State Forests' Conservation Area Public Comment Period Extended

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) announced last week that the public comment period for a draft rule concerning “conservation areas” on the State Forests has been extended to 5 p.m. on April 19. The classification would highlight areas that are already being managed for conservation values in the strategies set forth in currently approved forest management plans. The comment period was originally scheduled to run through April 5.
“We made the decision to extend opportunity for comment based on feedback we received from the public,” the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Mike Bordelon said. “They asked for more time to review the draft rule and submit their comments.”
The proposed administrative rule refines language within ODF’s Forest Land Management Classification System (Oregon Administrative Rule 629-035-0055) to add the classification of “High-Value Conservation Areas” within State Forest management plans.
The intent is to more clearly organize and display (such as on land-use maps and in data systems) areas of state-owned forests that are currently managed with a conservation emphasis. The rule change would affirm the State Forests’ current contributions to conservation. No changes to projected timber harvest levels or designations of additional conservation areas are proposed.
Currently, the Forest Land Management Classification System places all state-owned forestland into one of three categories: General Stewardship, Focused Stewardship, or Special Stewardship, with subclasses assigned for the specific forest resource or uses that require a Focused Stewardship or Special Stewardship classification.

The proposed change would divide the Special Stewardship classification into 1) Special Use, and 2) High-Value Conservation Areas.

Current language places lands that are managed with a conservation emphasis into subclasses according to specific attributes -- such as wildlife habitat or aquatic/riparian habitat -- or designates lands where timber harvest would be impractical or would put natural resources at risk due to steep slopes, rocky soils, or other characteristics. Under the proposed change, these lands would be grouped in the new High-Value Conservation Area classification or the Special Use category.
The proposed rule revision applies to all Board of Forestry-owned lands: the Tillamook, Clatsop and Santiam State Forests in northwestern Oregon; the Gilchrist and Sun Pass State Forests east of the Cascades; and scattered small parcels throughout Oregon. The revised land classification system would also apply to the Elliott State Forest near Coos Bay, though the Elliott’s forest management plan already includes designated conservation areas as one strategy to achieve overall plan objectives. Most of the Elliott is under the jurisdiction of the State Land Board, made up of the governor, state treasurer and secretary of state. An agreement is in place under which the Oregon Department of Forestry provides management.
The draft rule language is available for review on the Oregon Department of Forestry web site at:
Written comments on the proposed amended rule are being accepted through 5 p.m. on April 19, 2013, and may be sent to ODF through several routes:
  • FAX to: 503-945-7376, Attn: John Barnes
  • REGULAR Mail to: John Barnes, Oregon Department of Forestry, 2600 State Street - Building D, Salem OR 97310.
The Oregon Department of Forestry manages more than 800,000 acres of forests in Oregon for the environmental, social and economic benefit of Oregonians.