Timber Companies and Conservation Groups Agree to November Ballot Ceasefire

In what is being hailed as a first of its kind agreement in Oregon, 13 timber companies and 13 conservation groups this week agreed to suspend several dueling ballot measures efforts and work toward a mutually agreeable forest management plan.   

According to The Oregonian, which broke the story on Monday, Feb.10, the agreement hinges on the state legislature passing tighter restrictions on aerial spraying of herbicides by March 10.   

The new restrictions would significantly increase the aerial spray buffer zones around homes, schools and streams. In exchange, both sides agreed to halt work on putting multiple opposing measures on the November ballot.  

Battle Of The Ballots: According to The Oregonian, environmental groups led by Oregon Wild were pushing three measures aimed at more restrictive aerial spraying regulations, prohibiting logging in landslide prone areas and prohibiting conflicts of interest for state forestry board appointees.   

The Oregon Forest & Industries Council struck back by launching initiatives giving the timber industry more control over the Oregon Department of Forestry. The OFIC also sought to amend the state’s constitution to require compensation for landowners financially affected by changes in land-use law.    

18 Months to Remake State Forestry Management: According to The Oregonian, if the legislature upholds its end of the deal, the two sides plan to spend the next 18 months hammering out new rules covering logging practices on private land to protect endangered wild fish.    

Any potential rewrite of state forestry practice would need to pass during the 2022 legislative session and receive federal approval.  

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown called the agreement “a paradigm shift.”  

“No one thought this could be done,” Brown, told The Oregonian, “And we are making it happen because people are tired of the endless wars at the ballot and in the courtroom.”  

By Larry Coonrod