The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) will hold a public hearing on proposed changes to administrative rules adopted under the Oregon Forest Practices Act (FPA) regarding when statutory written plans are required, and general housekeeping updates.
The primary rule change will be reflected in language for Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 629-605-0170 concerning required written plans for timber harvest operations. This rule revision is required to implement the changes to Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 527.670 associated with House Bill 2165, which was passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2011. The bill was written to increase ODF’s effectiveness and efficiency in administering the FPA.
The intent of the primary rule change is to increase resource protection by decreasing unnecessary paperwork that is currently required for administrative compliance. This gain in efficiency would afford ODF foresters more time to perform field inspections and focus on high-priority operations. The change is strictly administrative and would not alter the resource protection standards within the FPA. The general FPA housekeeping changes fix grammatical errors, update outdated rule references and establish a title for the forest practice rules. None of these housekeeping updates changes the intent or meaning of any rules.
Statutory written plans are required when an operation is proposed within 100 feet of fish-bearing or domestic-use streams, as well as certain significant wetlands. Under Oregon statute the purpose of this administratively determined distance is to identify when a written plan is required, not to describe the area to be protected. The area to be protected is the resource’s riparian management area (RMA). This protection area is determined by the water resource’s size. RMA widths range from 20 feet to 100 feet from the resource’s high water mark. If an operation enters into a RMA, then specific rules adopted by the FPA are applied and need to be communicated to a Stewardship Forester within a written plan.
OAR 629-605-0170 currently requires that a statutory written plan accompany operations proposed within the 100-foot administrative mark even if the operation will be outside the RMA. Typically these written plans minimally state that the operation will be outside of the RMA. Having this administrative requirement for these types of operations creates substantial administrative work for ODF foresters while not providing much value-added information towards resource protection. The administrative work includes sending written notice that a written plan is required, reviewing and processing the written plan, and tracking a 14-day public comment and waiting period associated with the written plan.
The proposed rule change under OAR 629-605-0170 would allow Stewardship Foresters to waive the written plan requirement for harvest and road construction operations if the operator states at the initial notification that no physical components of the protected resource’s RMA will be directly affected. Removing this non-value-added paperwork will allow ODF foresters and administrative staff to focus on operations that will be entering the RMA or have other high resource protection priorities.
The public hearing will be held on Monday, April 22, at the Oregon Department Forestry headquarters office, Building D – Santiam Room, 2600 State St., in Salem, beginning at 5 p.m. and ending at 7 p.m.
The hearing location is accessible to person with disabilities. Requests for an interpreter for the hearing impaired or other accommodations for the person with disabilities should be made at least 48 hours prior to the meeting by calling the Department of Forestry at 503-945-7425. Public comments along with staff responses and recommendations will be provided by a consent agenda item to the Board of Forestry for review prior to final rule adoption, which is anticipated in June 2013.
These rule revisions apply to all private forest timberlands that are subject to ODF’s administration.
The draft rule language is available for review on the Oregon Department of Forestry website.
Written comments on the proposed amended rules are being accepted through April 28, 2013, and may be sent to ODF in the following ways:
FAX: 503-945-7490 Attn: Private Forest HB 2165 Rulemaking
STANDARD MAIL: Private Forest HB 2165 Rulemaking, Oregon Department of Forestry, 2600 State St. Building D, Salem, OR 97310.
The Oregon Department of Forestry works toward healthy, sustainable forests through the Board of Forestry’s strategic plan, the overarching Forestry Program for Oregon and through various means including: programs serving rural and urban Oregonians, balanced forest management, and laws that provide for environmentally sound timber harvest. All of these are based on broad public and stakeholder input, scientific research, collaboration, and the willing participation of landowners.