The Oregon Board of Forestry will mark a transition at its Jan. 9 meeting in Salem, as John Blackwell, whose term as board chair ended Dec. 31, passes the gavel to Tom Imeson, public affairs director at the Port of Portland. Michael Rose, a forest industry labor representative, is joining the board as well, succeeding Steve Wilson, whose term also ended Dec. 31.
Governor Kitzhaber will thank the outgoing members for their service, welcome the new members, and offer his perspectives on challenges facing federally owned forestland in Oregon. The board has placed high priority on issues involving the 60 percent of Oregon’s forestland base that is federally owned, and will take up the topic later in its agenda.
Two panels will provide updates and views on forest health, economic viability of rural communities, and other issues related to the 60 percent of Oregon’s forestland base that is federally owned. The first panel will update the board on state actions intended to influence federal forest policy. These include a legislative proposal to support local collaborative groups working on forest projects, and Kitzhaber’s initiative to address the future of the Oregon and California forestlands in western Oregon.
A second panel will include guest speakers representing various groups with a range of interests in the management of federally owned forests.
Based on the Jan. 9 discussion, Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) staff will return with proposals this spring for specific board engagement in federal forest policy issues.
Other agenda highlights include:
Improving financial viability of the State Forests Division
A work group formed to address budget shortfalls in the ODF State Forests Division will present its final report and recommendations. The division is self-supporting, almost entirely through timber sale revenues, which took a dramatic downturn during the national housing and economic crises.
The work group’s short-term recommendations include continuing with cost reduction measures, increasing timber harvest volumes within existing policies, and improving business practices and functions. Long-term recommendations include developing alternative forest management plans and an overall financial plan for the division, and evaluating alternative revenue streams.
Planning fire protection work
ODF staff will present a draft Fire Protection Division work plan for board consideration. The plan covers priority items, including the Wildfire Protection Act, HB 2050 in the 2013 legislative session, which would control and equitably distribute costs in Oregon’s wildfire protection system.
Other draft work plan items include revising the Oregon Smoke Management Plan, and reviewing ODF’s agreements with forest protective associations—integral partners in fire protection—and updating them as necessary.
Connecting with the Oregon State University College of Forestry
Dr. Thomas Maness, new dean of the College of Forestry, will present his vision of the future of the college. The forest economist will also discuss collaboration between the institution and ODF, and profile several key initiatives underway in the college.
Salmonberry “Rails and Trails” update
The board will receive an update on ODF’s partnership with local and state agencies to consider the feasibility of this proposal to develop the rail bed through the Salmonberry Canyon in Tillamook County into a recreational trail system. The Portland-based landscape architecture firm of Walker-Macy provided an initial, high-level feasibility analysis of the project last November.
The Board of Forestry meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the administration building’s Tillamook Room at ODF’s Salem headquarters, 2600 State St. The agenda includes a general public comment period shortly after 9 a.m. Public comment on specific agenda items will be received as the board takes them up.
More information on the Board of Forestry is online at: www.oregonforestry.gov. Background information on the Jan. 9 meeting, including staff reports, is available through the 2013 “Meeting Schedules” link on the website.