by Peggy Lynch, Coordinator
Air Quality: DEQ is asking for public comment on their Regional Haze 2021 Regional Implementation Plan. See the rulemaking page: 2018-2028 State Implementation Plan. The comment period closes on Nov. 1, 2021 at 4 p.m.
Budgets/Revenue: The next Revenue Forecast is November 17. For more information, see the Oregon Economic Analysis. The 2021 legislature set aside $50 million for general use and 10 Special Purpose Appropriations of almost $500 million to address various anticipated emergencies or assumed expenses by the Emergency Board. The Emergency Board meets when the Legislature is not in session. The last Revenue Forecast added $700 million for the legislature to consider in 2022.
Climate (Claudia Keith and Team): See Climate Report in a separate Legislative Report section. See the Forestry section in this report for forest climate work, the Coastal section and the Land Use section related to other agency work. There are overlaps with this Natural Resources Report. We encourage you to read both sections.
Coastal Issues (Christine Moffitt and Peggy Lynch): The Territorial Sea Plan, Part Three Section E and Appendix C are now available for Review. The draft amendment of the Rocky Habitat Site Designation Proposal is now available for review. A cover letter describing materials for review is available on the Oregon Ocean Information website. The public comment period extends to October 18, 2021.
Amendments to Goal 18 related to continued requests for adding riprap to private property along the ocean are also being discussed. There may be changes to the Goal to protect Hwy 101 as we see increased king tides and storms damaging the road. We are less supportive of changes to the Goal to allow indiscriminate installation of riprap that may affect a neighbor’s property or destabilize our public beaches.
Oregon’s forward-thinking, internationally known early actions to adapt to and mitigate for a changing ocean are highlighted in a special issue of Coastal Management Journal. The special issue was recently published online by the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification of which Oregon is a founding member.
Peggy Joyce was our coastal legislative volunteer a couple of years ago. She has been nominated by the Governor to serve on the Ocean Policy Advisory Council. The Senate Rules Committee will meet in November to consider the appointment.
Dept. OF Environmental Quality (DEQ) (Josie Koehne and Peggy Lynch): Both DEQ and the Oregon Dept. of Forestry have drafted a new Memorandum of Understanding MOU related to the nexus between the federal Clean Water Act which DEQ is to implement in Oregon and forest practices under the purview of the Dept. of Forestry. The League provided testimony in support while making it clear that Oregon’s waters need to be protected.
Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries(DOGAMI) (Peggy Lynch): State Geologist Brad Avy has retired. Sarah Lewis has been named interim DOGAMI leader.
Elliott State Forest (Peggy Lynch): There has been a flurry of activity around the Elliott State Forest this past month. After the Dept. of State Lands (DSL) Director announced that Oregon State University (OSU), while continuing to be interested in creating a research forest, will be searching for an alternate ownership and management model from having OSU own the Elliott. Focus has now moved to possible creation of a public corporation or some model reflecting the South Slough National Estuarine Reserve model. The League has concerns about either of those ideas but are willing to listen and learn more. The Advisory Committee met on Sept. 8 where a proposal to create a public corporation was presented and on Sept. 22 where the discussion turned to establishing a relationship more like the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (SSNERR), meeting information on the Elliott webpage.
The League worked with others to assure that the SSNERR continued to be under DSL and the State Land Board. That process might fit the Elliott, but it does NOT take DSL off the hook for management or budget decisions—something I believe the Land Board was looking for. There was also no mention of how the Common School Fund would be reimbursed for the $120 million still owed from the last appraisal. OSU is suggesting it needs $17 million in infrastructure to house staff on or near the Elliott and $10 million in operating expenses the first three years (before they can gain revenue from timber harvest) in their management plan.
While this discussion is on-going, progress is being made to consider a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the Elliott. The latest draft plan is now available. A proposed HCP will need to be forwarded to federal agencies for a final public review which could take from six months to two years. Read the Elliott HCP Administrative Draft – September 2021. Watch the September 23, 2021 Elliott Advisory Committee Meeting on YouTube. HCP presentations.
Public meetings have been set for Sept. 27 and Oct. 6. (See webpage.) During each info session, the DSL and OSU project team will provide updates on the habitat conservation plan, public ownership, forest management planning, decoupling, and more. Each session will also include time for questions and input.
Emergency Services: October 21 will be the Great Shake Out – an annual emergency exercise that all responders participate in and Oregonians need to consider as well. Although focused on “the Big One”, a catastrophic earthquake, it is also time to be 2-Weeks Ready for any emergency.
Forestry (Josie Koehne, James Cannon and Peggy Lynch): A flurry of rulemaking meetings is in progress currently that will define details of implementing the comprehensive wildfire bill, SB 762, to provide for wildfire risk reduction, response and recovery, with programs related to defensible space, prescribed fire (the Burn Manager Program), landscape resiliency and community emergency preparedness. A fiscal summary of all elements can be found here.
One SB 762 rulemaking committee (RAC), the Statewide Fire Risk Mapping RAC, requires development of a statewide wildfire risk map to be developed by the Department of Forestry in collaboration with Oregon State University. The RAC includes members of the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal, other state agencies, local governments, tribes, and other public bodies with additional information sources. As part of the bill approval deal, another RAC had 100 days from its first Zoom meeting on Sept 7 to come up with a definition for the wildland urban interface, or WUI, and establish criteria to identify and classify the WUI. The RAC recommends the WUI definition to be based on the international definition of the WUI based on ODF’s recommendations: “that geographical area where structures and other human development meets or intermingles with wildland or vegetative fuels.” The League provided testimony in support of the international WUI definition and sent a members’ Action Alert. Public hearings were held with a final decision to be made by the Board of Forestry by Oct. 27. The risk mapping and WUI definition rulemaking committees will now meet jointly, starting September 30 from 9AM - 1PM, and will meet every two weeks intermittently through February 10, to more clearly define criteria to develop and maintain a comprehensive statewide wildfire risk map, including wildland-urban interface boundaries and five fire risk classes by June 30, 2022. The final rules will include an appeals process for property owners since these maps will guide future rules on action needed around the defensible space for the most at-risk properties. Those rules will be determined by the State Fire Marshal.
In addition, a Certified Burn Manager RAC met August 18 and September 15 led by ODF’s Tim Holschbach. Rules must be complete by November 30. These meetings are thoughtful deliberations about who will use the program and what skill levels will be required for different types of certification and geographic areas for prescribed burns.
Videos of all these rulemaking deliberations can be found here. All meetings are open to the public and have public comment opportunities. To access meetings, visit the RAC webpage for the Zoom links and sign up to receive meeting reminders and agendas. Written comments or questions about any aspect of SB 762 implementation may be submitted by email to email@example.com.
Board of Forestry: Governor Brown nominated retired USDA Forest Service Southern Regional Forester Liz Agpaoa to the Board of Forestry on September 1. Her nomination is awaiting Senate confirmation, now scheduled for November Legislative Days.This appointment and others have been postponed due to redistricting mapping delays and COVID in the Legislature. Liz Agpaoa began her work in 1979 as a district biologist at the Willamette National Forest in Oregon and has a passion for ecology.
The Board of Forestry met September 8 to hear public comments on ODF’s draft Climate Change and Carbon Plan. The LWVOR provided comments on July 28 and again on September 3. The League commented about positive improvements in the second draft, but also pointed out elements where an independent consultant, PSU’s Oregon Consensus, had consolidated stakeholder feedback, but this feedback had not been incorporated into the latest revision: “There was a shared desire expressed among different stakeholders to assist and help shape the future of ODF’s policy and operations related to carbon and climate change.” Another League comment was “Climate Smart Forestry Management is not merely an extension of sustainable management, a term that is also not clearly defined, as “sustainable” is not merely replacing and replanting the same tree species as was harvested…there needs to be a more complete and thorough explanation of “climate smart forestry” upfront, not developed later in the plan….Because climate smart forestry is a guiding principle, the LWVOR thinks the wording for the first principle should read “All forest management activities should be planned in light of both present and future impacts from climate change.” We commented that the plan needed to “Include more specificity with regards to metrics, goals, accountability measures, and implementation timelines as part of this plan” This comment was brought up by many other stakeholders. ODF acknowledged receipt of our comments. We look forward to seeing a new draft in the next few months.
Other topics discussed on Sept. 8 included an update on wildfires including costs to date, and a progress report on the implementation plan developed by ODF’s financial consultant, MGO.
The Board of Forestry will have a 2-day virtual retreat on October 6 and 7, an informal event for members of the Board and agency leadership to fulfill retreat objectives, connect on planning matters, and discuss work for the future. See the agenda and packet.
Objectives are for the Board to:
Connect with each other and discuss leadership effectiveness and desired working relationship in support of sound public policy decision making,
Tee up the Board’s future review and update of the Forest Program for Oregon,
Engage with ODF’s Executive Team on current and future strategic initiatives, and
Discuss Board priorities and Board work plan items for the upcoming two years and provide thoughts to inform the 2023-2025 biennium.
There will be no opportunity for the public to provide comment or testimony during the meeting, but both days of the retreat will be livestreamed on the ODF youtube channel.
HCP and FMP: The Oregon Department of Forestry is continuing to work on a Western Oregon State Forests Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for State Forests and the lands they manage to protect the covered endangered species on their lands that must be protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, to be developed in conjunction with a Companion Western Oregon State Forest Management Plan, not updated since 2010. An Alternate Habitat Conservation Plan with three goals has been proposed by some Forest Trust Land Advisory Committee members, David Yamamoto and John Sweet. They are presenting their alternate plan to other county commissioners to gather support. The plan has had no public hearings or public input to date, nor has it been reviewed by state biologists and other ODF specialists. Their plan calls for more land devoted to timber harvest to increase revenue for the counties by reducing the size of the habitat conservation areas (ACAs) that are designated in the current draft plan for spotted owl habitat, and calls for more reductions in the barred owl population that compete for the same habitat. Currently the schedule is for a final draft expected to be approved by the Board of Forestry in February of 2023. That draft will be submitted to federal agencies for a federal process (taking up to 2 years) with additional public comments before it is finalized.
In the meantime, in a separate process, an HCP for private forests is under negotiation by 25 timber and conservation groups under an agreement signed in February 2020, through a Memo of Understanding (now known as the Private Forest Accord). Delivery of this much-anticipated plan is expected by the end of October. Hopefully it will include an adaptive management component that involves a rigorous look at efficacy of existing and future forest practice regulation, and a science-driven process for analyzing the need for any changes. See additional details in our last report.
New legislation during the 2021 session regarding improvements to the Forest Practices Act or other regulation was put on hold awaiting outcome of the Private Forest Accord draft agreement. Legislation is expected in 2022 to memorialize the Accord agreement.
Separately, SB 1602 (2020) required the department to improve their public notification system (FERNS) related to forestry work including aerial spraying and improving their data on water points of diversion in Oregon. To implement those requirements, ODF is working with the Water Resources Dept. to locate and map those water points. They are also providing helicopter pesticide application and communication training opportunities:
Nov. 3 from 1 to 3 p.m. Meeting link: https://odf.zoom.us/j/96592108915 Meeting ID: 965 9210 8915 or
Nov. 4 from 9 to 11 a.m. Meeting link: https://odf.zoom.us/j/93765787796 Meeting ID: 937 6578 7796.
The training will explain how to use E-Notification to notify for helicopter pesticide applications and register to receive operations updates. The SB 1602 summary provides background about the law. For more information contact Josh Barnard, Interim Division Chief, Private Forests Division (Josh.W.BARNARD@oregon.gov). New helicopter pesticide applications and neighborly communications procedures will be effective December 15, 2021.
MOU between ODF and DEQ: A new, revised Memorandum of Understanding between ODF and DEQ has been developed and is under review with input from the public. The MOU spells out roles and responsibilities of the two agencies in collaborating to improve drinking water standards to meet the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requirements. Oregon has lost federal funding for failing to meet EPA’s standards for drinking water quality. The MOU clarifies responsibilities of the two agencies to implement the CWA. DEQ is responsible for setting the limits on water pollutants allowed, called TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Loads). These TMDLS will be used to determine if the current regulations of the Forest Practices Act are adequate to protect the state’s watershed drainage areas. The League provided testimony in support, submitted September 25. The public has until Sept. 30 to comment.
Land Use/Housing (Debbie Aiona, Nancy Donovan, Peggy Lynch and the Climate Team): The Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) continues to receive reports on the implementation of HB 2001 (2019). See their past meeting materials to learn more.
The Dept. of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) staff will facilitate a public review of the Draft Policy Agenda (the department’s 2021-23 work plan) from Sept. 27, 2021, through Oct. 14, 2021. The League often comments on this work.
DLCD is the convenor for the state’s Climate Change Adaptation among a broad group of state agencies. This work will be on-going. The League has suggested that this work be used by all 24 state agencies as they develop their 2023 budget proposals. The League supports another program, the on-going Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities rulemaking. See more about this in the Climate Report.
As the League follows HB 2003 (2019) work, we learned a bit more about the process at the local level. A previous bill required rent burdened communities to hold annual open houses. It also required that cities submit annual reports to DLCD on the number of permitted and produced housing units. HB 2003 now requires cities to complete a “pre-HPS Survey” 24-months prior to completion of their Housing Production Strategy (HPS). This survey is basically for cities to compile and report all of the housing production activities they are working on currently as a precursor to the work of their scheduled Housing Needs Analysis (HNA) and HPS. The HPS timing is tied to the HNA deadline established by LCDC. The rules for engagement and discussion surrounding the HPS push cities to think holistically about their housing policy and not in a vacuum. The League is concerned that local jurisdictions are not looking holistically at the many new state requirements placed on them related to how we plan our cities for a climate-stressed future. For more information, go to the DLCD housing website.
A pilot Regional Housing Needs Analysis (RHNA) was part of HB 2003 (2019). The League has concerns about the “regions” currently designated and the lack of substantial data outside of Metro and Central Oregon. Budget Notes were included in HB 5006: Budget Note #4 and #8: OHCS and DLCD are to provide an initial legislative report no later than February 1, 2022 and a final legislative report no later than December 31, 2022 on efforts to develop a legislative proposal for incorporation of a Regional Housing Needs Analysis into future state and local planning processes.
The issue of Systems Development Charges (SDCs) and who should pay for infrastructure needs for new development and that cost burden on “affordable housing” was discussed during consideration of HB 3040 (2021)., which now requires OHSC to conduct a study with other agencies and local governments to provide a broad review of the history, purposes and calculations of SDCs. A preliminary report is due in Dec. 2021 with a final report due by June of 2022. SDCs became a greater revenue source when Oregonians passed property tax limitation measures in the 1990s, reducing local government revenue.
The League continues to be a member of the Oregon Housing Alliance. Members attend regular meetings to discuss past and future legislation and programs.
See also the Housing Report in other sections of this Legislative Report.
Northwest Energy Coalition (NWEC) (Robin Tokmakian): The Northwest Power and Planning Council will hold hearings soon. See below for an opportunity to learn more from NWEC of which the League is a member. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council, the region’s official power planning agency, has just released its draft 2021 Northwest Power Plan. The public now has until November 19 to submit written comments, and several opportunities to testify at public hearings (virtually):
· September 27, 4-6pm Pacific, 5-7pm Mountain, hosted by Montana
· October 7, 5-7pm Pacific, 6-8pm Mountain, hosted by Washington
· October 12, 1:30-3:30pm Pacific, 2:30-4:30pm Mountain, hosted by Oregon
· October 14, 4-6pm Pacific, 5-7pm Mountain, hosted by Idaho
The Council’s power plan is important. It helps determine how much clean energy and energy efficiency we use by providing a blueprint for power system decisions throughout the region. It guides the Bonneville Power Administration’s choice of resources to meet public utilities’ needs and establishes benchmarks for long-term plans of both public and investor-owned utilities.
The 2021 Northwest Power Plan comes at a critical time. The region needs to replace the energy and capacity services from retiring fossil fuel resources and meet aggressive economy-wide greenhouse gas reduction goals in Washington and Oregon, while maintaining reliability and affordability. As we begin to see the impacts of climate change on the grid, the importance of having a clean, flexible, and resilient power system has never been greater.
The NWEC is providing an Oct. 6 opportunity to learn more about the 2021 Northwest Power Plan and how to get involved. The NWEC will review the plan, its strengths and drawbacks– and provide information and talking points you can use to send in comments or participate in a public comment hearing on the Draft.
Webinar #2 - Hosted by the NW Energy Coalition, October 6 12:00pm – 1:30pm PT. Register! The webinar is designed to be one hour and they are reserving extra Q&A time for those who want to go more in depth.
Radioactive Waste (Shirley Weathers): The League will participate in rulemaking to implement SB 246 (2021), Radioactive Waste Disposal Definitions and Enforcement. There are tentatively six meetings scheduled with the first meeting on Oct. 19.
Recycling: Since Governor Kate Brown signed the Plastic Pollution and Recycling Modernization Act (SB 582-2021) into law on August 6, DEQ has been developing an implementation plan, estimated timeline and other resources to support implementation of the new law and inform interested parties. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2022, and the start-up phase will span multiple years with extensive planning, research, rulemaking and stakeholder engagement. DEQ will keep interested stakeholders informed and seek input through several different channels throughout the first few years of implementation. More details about engagement opportunities
Transportation: The Malheur County Development Corp. last week got Americold's signature on a 20-year lease to operate the Treasure Valley Reload Center near Nyssa. Work on the facility will begin in November. The taxpayer-funded shipping center is designed to cut onion shippers costs, now relying on trucking or unreliable rail service to move their product. The rail shipping center will function through a partnership between onion shippers, the county, Union Pacific Railroad and Americold, a national warehousing company. See Malheur Enterprise.com for stories about this important public investment. Another transload facility is being built near Millersburg off I-5.
Toxics (Amelia Nestler): See our Pesticides and other Biocides study. Local Leagues will reach consensus on the study to adopt advocacy positions based on this important educational work. See your local League to be a part of developing these positions!
Water (Peggy Lynch and Amelia Nestler): The Water Resources Dept. (WRD) received a huge infusion of staff positions and program changes with the 2021 session. With on-going drought and their long-term responsibilities, they are working toward hiring the appropriate staff and addressing things like an update of the Integrated Water Resources Strategy, the 100-year water vision and a number of rulemakings and work groups that they will need to accomplish in less than 2 years.
The League has been supportive and it is now time to review the department’s Place-Based Planning program. The Planning Assessment will include an evaluation of the program which now has 4 pilot projects. The Assessment results will be used to guide future approaches and support for water resources planning efforts.The scope of the Planning Assessment was described to the Water Resources Commission in June 2020. Click here to view the presentation.
WRD received Budget Note #9 in HB 5006 (2021): WRD is directed to use provided funding to contract with Oregon Consensus to convene a workgroup comprised of a balanced membership including, but not limited to, conservation groups, agricultural water users, municipal water users, environmental justice organizations, tribal interests and state agencies including WRD and ODFW to consider regional water management opportunities that build on the 100-Year Water Vision and further the goals of the Integrated Water Resources Strategy. The League had concerns around regional water planning if Oregon counties were to be responsible for making decisions around our statewide water laws. This Budget Note and monies allocated provides opportunities to have a broad discussion before any such regional program is adopted. Water in Oregon belongs to all of us.
A Work Group has been formed by Rep. Anna Williams to find consensus related to HB 2594 (2021) which did not pass but would have provided more protection to drinking water streams and other sources. See Forestry (above) related to work on SB 1602 from 2020 and the MOU being considered between DEQ and ODF.
Another Work Group around water measurement is attempting to find a compromise between the need for good data and those concerned with the need to measure the water they are legally using.
The League supported HB 2145 (2021), the agency’s modernization of well construction bill, and worked to add a well repair fund to the bill similar to the on-site septic program at DEQ. The bill approved a fee increase for “start cards” to help pay for this work and the legislature provided more than $2 million in the new fund. Rulemaking is needed to set criteria for allocating the funds.
Members might be interested in reading this comprehensive Oregon Water Futures Report.
Amelia Nestler serves as the League’s statutory member of OHA’s Drinking Water Advisory Committee (DWAC). The committee meets quarterly to consider issues around drinking water systems serving Oregonians. Among the issues being considered are systems affected by the wildfires, including possible benzene contamination and new rules for very small water systems where staff is needed to manage drinking water requirements.
Oregon’s nine federally recognized Indian tribes have asked to be included in Oregon’s water plans as stated in a letter to Governor Brown dated Sept. 21. “As Oregon’s “water vision” initiative moves forward, and to ensure that our voices will be clearly heard in all that process might entail, the tribes request the following:
By executive order, establish a “Tribe-Agency Water Vision Task Force” to include representation from Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes and the nine state agencies identified in Oregon’s Water Resources Strategy. The goal of this group would be to fully coordinate the vision and goals of a holistic water vision.
Collaborate with each of our tribes to develop specific recommendations for the water plan. Each of our sovereign tribes may have unique, specific interests pertinent to water resources and/or water infrastructure within their ancestral areas.”
With the on-going drought throughout Oregon, League members may want to check the U.S. Drought Monitor map, updated every Thursday, at least during the summer season. And here’s the counties in Oregon for which a drought declaration has been approved. This last week Curry County declared a drought emergency which the Governor will need to consider. It’s been good to see a bit of rain this September, but it will take a lot more to remove Oregon from our serious multi-year drought situation.
Visit the Harmful Algae Bloom website or call the Oregon Public Health Division toll-free information line at 877-290-6767 to learn if an advisory has been issued or lifted for a specific water body. We have also seen beach closures this late summer, many of which may be related to failing septic systems along the coast.
Wildfires (Joyce Chapman and Peggy Lynch): We are pleased to report that Oregon’s communities are seeing some recovery after the Sept. 2020 wildfires. The policy changes and infusion of monies by the legislature and the federal government have helped some homes and businesses return. There is, however, much work to be done. There are still many people living in motels, RVs, FEMA trailers and may well also be living in tents, particularly in Jackson County where manufactured and mobile home parks burned. Jackson County reports the debris removal estimate was 18 months, but it got done in 8 months. There is discussion around FEMA trailers as they usually have a deadline for use. Oregon will need to apply for an extension to keep them in use here.
Both the Lane Electric and Consumers Power Co-Ops have been awarded federal funds to replace and perhaps upgrade their facilities damaged in Sept. 2020 wildfires.
The Oregon Dept. of Energy is working on the best way to spend the $10 million they were allocated to help upgrade new homes or provide other building money for permits and other assistance. Rulemaking is needed to clarify the allocation criteria. That is also true with other monies. Agencies need to set clear and fair criteria to assure taxpayer dollars are spent as anticipated AND that Oregonians can get back into homes in their communities.
For example, Marion County officials are planning to build 32 houses in the Santiam Canyon to provide short-term shelter for people displaced by the Beachie Creek Fire last summer. The county will use wildfire recovery funds approved during the 2021 legislative session for buying and installing the houses, which will be split across two sites – a group of cabins at North Santiam State Park and a so-called “tiny home village” in Gates, Matt Lawyer, a policy analyst for the Marion County Board of Commissioners, said at a recent board meeting. Here is an impressive but sad tour of the Santiam Canyon—before and after the Sept. 2020 fires.
Lest we forget, there has also been a 2021 fire season. As of Sept. 16, 174 residences, one business and 294 other structures have burned. Most of the homes were lost in Klamath County’s Bootleg Fire. ODF suppression costs are $122 million gross and $59.5 million net ((following FEMA and other Federal agencies’ reimbursements). Oregon State Fire Marshal suppression costs are $21 million, as of Sept. 13.
See the Forestry section for information about SB 762 and forestry actions.
A new online TOOL, released by the Oregon Department of Forestry, allows residents to track current wildfire risk to their exact location anywhere in Oregon. The tool, part of the Oregon Explorer website, uses a variety of data to calculate how high risk is for any given location.
Wildlife: Want to know which plants attract pollinators? Here’s an OSU Extension Service video.
Volunteers Needed: You can see the names of League volunteers who covered one or more issues above. Volunteers are needed to participate in rulemaking to implement the bills passed in the 2021 session and to follow 2022 legislation in 2022, a short 5-week session starting Feb. 1st. If not actually serving on a rules advisory committee (RAC), you could simply monitor and report back on their work. Natural Resource Agency Boards and Commissions meet regularly and need monitoring. If any area of natural resources is of interest to you, please contact Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Training will be offered.