Trust-y Federal Land Management- O&C Version

When I started reading the news stories about this, I felt like I’d come into the middle of a novel.
First, I’d like to start with some thinking by Bob Malmsheimer of SUNY ESF, who said something along the lines of “we can never have a meaningful discussion about “trust management” until we clarify exactly what we mean. The term is used in so many different ways.” I think he raises an excellent point, so here on this blog we will try to be clear about these concepts and language.

This piece will be about O&C efforts, and, as we will see “trusts” are only one of the ideas involved once we look more closely.

So with the help of Steve Wilent, I managed to find enough pieces of the O&C puzzle so that perhaps we can begin to understand what’s going on. Since it seems fairly complicated, we will probably have a number of posts. Clearly, looking through the news “clippings,” there has been a great deal going on so I’m hoping readers from Oregon will help us catch up.

The most recent piece of news was Enviro Groups Letter to Wyden Dec. 2012-2 letter of some environmental groups to Senator Wyden.

That letter referred to something called ““Principles for an O&C Solution: A Roadmap for Federal Legislation to Navigate both the House and Senate”.

So I went looking for them, and the only place I could locate them was on Andy Kerr’s website here. Obviously I can’t vouch for their accuracy, but thankfully he posted the Governor’s and the Senator’s principles in one place. Now for those of you who aren’t following this, Andy Kerr is the same person who “bolted” from the Governor’s county payments panel based on clearcutting as in this news story. There appears to be another proposal for the O&C lands from environmental groups based on this piece by Jim Petersen in Evergreen, but I couldn’t find that either. So here is what Andy Kerr posted:

The Governor’s O&C Principles and the Senator’s O&C Principles

Though the attention for the present is on Governor John Kitzhaber’s attempt to resolve the O&C lands management crisis by convening a group of stakeholders from the O&C counties, timber industry and conservation community (as many of you know, I am of the view that the Governor’s choices to represent the conservation community are not representative of the conservation community as a whole), given that controversy involves federal public forestlands, it will be the forthcoming effort led by Senator Ron Wyden that will be controlling on the issue.

Here are the Governor’s O&C Principles:

• Stable County Funding – Recognize O&C Act’s unique community stability mandate and provide adequate and stable county revenues sufficient to meet needs for basic public services.
• Stable Timber Supply – Provide adequate and stable timber supply that will provide for employment opportunities, forest products and renewable energy.
• Protect Unique Places – Permanently protect ecologically unique places.
• Durable & Adaptive Conservation Standards – Maintain Northwest Forest Plan forest management standards – Late Successional/Old Growth Reserves & Aquatic Conservation Strategy – in an adaptive manner where and when required to comply with environmental laws.
• Conservation Opportunities – Promote conservation advances on private “checkerboard” lands through voluntary, non-regulatory incentives – financial, technical, regulatory relief, etc.
• Federal Budget Neutral – Recognize that O&C solution will need to be budget neutral or positive at the Federal level.
·• Achieve Certainty – Develop a policy framework that will provide for certainty in achieving all of these principles.

Here are the Senator’s O&C Principles:

Principles for an O&C Solution

A Roadmap for Federal Legislation to Navigate Both the House and the Senate

1. STABLE FUNDING FOR COUNTIES: Oregon rural counties must be assured a stable level of funding from the Federal government due to the large extend of public lands they contain. Those funds can come through public lands receipts of through another mechanism created by this, or other, legislation. In the current fiscal climate that funding will not be able to replace historical levels of receipts, nor will timber receipts be able to fully provide for all funding needs. Recognizing that Oregon’s rural communities are suffering with high unemployment and unique economic challenges, they also need to do their part in reducing disparities in tax rates and developing a reasonable level of revenue from local activities. However, the Federal government must do its share to compensate counties for the impact of federal lands and the policies governing those lands.

2. SUSTAINABILITY: Timber harvest must be economically and environmentally sustainable. Timber harvests must produce more commercial product from O&C lands than is currently being produced and harvest should be guided by a scientifically-based, sustainable management regime that will meet or exceed the stated goals of the relevant federal and state environmental laws. Opportunities for active and adaptive management could included a variety of examples, such as the ecological forestry principles promoted by Norm Johnson and Jerry Franklin, as well as the pilot projects being currently promoted by various collaborative groups in Southern Oregon.

3. CONSERVATION: In addition to increasing timber harvesting, this legislation must result in wilderness and other permanently conserved lands proportional to the lands designated for harvest. These should include protection of both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, including large blocks of Bureau of Land Management lands and old-growth forests.

4. MANAGING LANDS MORE EFFICIENTLY: The legislation should seek opportunities to consolidate O&C and non-O&C lands. This will include addressing the checkerboard pattern of the O&C ownership and exchanging lands according to their best use whenever possible. It must develop an approach to rationalize land management between the O&C lands and adjoining private and public lands, both for timber and conservation values. The legislation should consider setting in motion a process to seek greater consolidation and management efficiencies on federal lands going forward.

Any consolidation or exchange should take into account concerns of neighboring private landowners, including access, rights of way and wildfire. The discussion should also address opportunities to finally honor unrealized treaty obligations to the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, understanding that some lands considered for their reservations may not be O&C lands. Both tribes have treaties pre-dating the O&C Lands Act.

5. LEGAL REQUIREMENT FOR TIMBER MANAGEMENT: Management of these lands must comply with all applicable Federal laws. Development of the plan should include open discussions on how to better implement the National Environmental Policy Act. There should be particular focus on streamlining the objection processes (for example, as included in the Healthy Forests Restoration Act and Senator Wyden’s Eastside Forestry legislation), and categorical exclusions for timber projects and other defined situations.

6. CHANGING RESPONSIBILITIES FOR LAND MANAGEMENT: Due consideration should be given to proposals for non-Federal entities managing lands designated for conservation or active management as long as their is broad support for the proposal among stakeholders. Negotiations must take into account the failures of other private management efforts and the general opposition to private management of federal lands in Congress.

7. SAFEGUARDING OLD GROWTH: Oregon’s old growth must be protected. Old growth should generally be defined as 120 years of age or older, with exceptions made for significant ecological reasons.

O&C Trust Draft the draft bill that perhaps the environmental groups were responding to…

This is the beginning of the dialogue, and I am trying to catch up. Others can add links to documents and their opinions..

2 thoughts on “Trust-y Federal Land Management- O&C Version”

  1. The problems with turning 1.5 million acres of western Oregon BLM forest lands into a timber trust for clearcutting to fund the counties are too numerous to list.

    Among the most serious problems is that these lands are right in the heart of the Northwest Forest Plan and they provide essential connectivity between large blocks of habitat in the Cascades and Coast Range. Scientists have warned for 20 years that the Forest Service cannot carry all the conservation burden. BLM must plan a role in an inter-agency conservation plan.

    In other words, if BLM lands are chopped out of the Northwest Forest Plan, there are insufficient mitigating options on Forest Service lands, which means that private lands in the checkerboard and across the region would likely face increased regulatory constraints in order to meet water quality standards, Endangered Species Act recovery goals, etc. Private timber interests have apparently forgotten that federal lands (USFS + BLM) have been carrying the conservation burden while they continue their aggressive practices with little regulatory oversight. Upsetting this scheme is a radical proposition. Nothing is more certain to reignite the forest wars.

    • No one is proposing to clearcut 1.5 million acres, Tree!

      “Management of these lands must comply with all applicable Federal laws.” I rather doubt that the courts will impose “preservationism” on to private lands, as well. And then there is the fact that since the enacting of the NWFP, owl populations have further decreased, despite setting aside exclusive use of lands AND the reductions of logging on “matrix” lands, well below their legal allowances.


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