News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

ODF sets three sessions on habitat plan

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) is hosting two listening sessions to hear final thoughts from the public as part of its work toward a habitation conservation plan. The plan will cover 640,000 acres of state-managed forestlands in western Oregon. 

ODF recently shared the results of new modeling estimates of long-term timber harvest, revenue, habitat and carbon storage. The listening sessions are intended to provide the public with an opportunity to share thoughts or concerns specific to this new information with state forester Cal Mukumoto, as he prepares to recommend how to move forward with finalization of the HCP and the forest management plans that will accompany it.

One listening session already has been held Jan. 25 in Eugene, with an in-person session in Astoria and one virtual listening session still on the calendar.

The in-person session is set for Wednesday, Jan. 31 in Astoria at The Loft at the Red Building, 20 Basin St.

Doors open for signup at 5 p.m., with the meeting starting at 5:30 p.m. Comments will be taken in the order the speakers’ names appear on the signup sheet.  

The virtual meeting will start 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 29. Advance registration is required at https://signup.com/client/invitation2/secure/221279800117/false#/invitation and speakers will be called upon in the order they register. A Zoom link and other information on providing comment will be provided by email following registration. More information on the listening sessions is provided on ODF’s website at https://www.oregon.gov/odf/aboutodf/documents/2024-state-forester-listening-sessions.pdf.

Management of state forests is guided by forest management plans that are adopted by the Board of Forestry. Forest management plans are designed to provide a full range of social, economic, and environmental outcomes that provide the “greatest permanent value” to all Oregonians. The draft HCP is how ODF will ensure compliance with the federal Endangered Species Act while implementing the forest management plan. 

The habitat conservation plan for Western Oregon has the goal of ensuring that private forest properties and logging practices are linked to the survival of aquatic species. A key outcome of the process will be the establishment of “incidental take permits,” which would recognize that the harming or killing of aquatic species protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) can occur even when the forest practices involved were legal.

The current approach of compliance through “take avoidance” is costly and complex. It eventually results in limited habitat quality and durability, fewer acres available for harvest, greater legal risk, and less financial certainty. The HCP will support the overall goal of the updated FMP by improving certainty around both ESA compliance and timber harvests.

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