Oregon Forestry Board sets agenda for January 7th meeting

400x400-Dept-of-ForestryThe Oregon Board of Forestry will receive an update on a trail project that would one day link the Willamette Valley with the northern Oregon coast, and will explore climate change’s influence on wildfires when it meets Jan. 7 in Salem.

The agenda also includes a report on efforts to maintain large-fire insurance coverage after two consecutive, costly fire seasons, and updates on several topics, including management of state-owned forests and activities at Oregon State University’s College of Forestry.

Agenda highlights:

Salmonberry trail project – The board will be asked to endorse this long-term project, which would create a recreational trail system along a historic rail route through rugged country in the northern Coast Range. The Oregon Departments of Forestry (ODF) and Parks and Recreation are among many key partners in this long-term project, now in its early stages, which would link Tillamook with Banks and with other trail networks.

Large wildfires and climate change – ODF staff will present highlights of a study on the potential effect of climate change on the geographic distribution of wildfires. The research was conducted through collaboration among ODF, the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon State University. The study examined large wildfires from 1971 to 2000 to create a model for predicting fire occurrence out to the year 2100.

Emergency Fire Cost Committee update – The Emergency Fire Cost Committee (EFCC), representing forest landowners who help pay the costs of fighting large fires, and ODF’s Fire Protection Division will provide an overview of their work. An advisory committee to the board, the EFCC partners with the state, forest landowners and Lloyds of London to obtain an annual catastrophic-loss fire insurance policy. Because of claims filed in the severe 2013 and 2014 fire seasons, coverage, if purchased, is expected to be more costly for 2015.

State Forest management revision project – The board’s Subcommittee on Alternative Forest Management Plans will give a brief update on the development of a “land allocation” approach to managing state-owned forests in northwestern Oregon. At its November 2014 meeting, the full board approved the subcommittee’s recommendation to pursue the approach, which defines how areas of the forests will be managed variously for conservation and production.

Elliott State Forest update – Mary Abrams, director of the Department of State Lands (DSL), will update the board on a project to chart the future of the Elliott State Forest near Coos Bay. ODF manages the forest through an agreement with DSL. In recent years protections for federally listed wildlife species have reduced timber harvests and associated revenue to Oregon’s Common School Fund. The State Land Board, consisting of the governor, secretary of state and state treasurer, have jurisdiction over the Elliott, and have directed DSL to evaluate alternatives that could better meet Land Board trust obligations to generate revenue from its assets.

Private Forests’ monitoring strategy – ODF’s Private Forests Division will present a draft plan updating its strategy for scientific monitoring on Oregon’s private forestlands. Monitoring assesses the implementation of forest practices rules and their effectiveness in protecting resources and public safety during timber harvest and other forest operations. The current monitoring strategy was adopted in 2002.

Federal Forests Subcommittee update – This board subcommittee focuses on issues of federal forest policy, seeking to help the board work effectively with the governor’s office, Oregon’s congressional delegation and the Legislature.

The meeting will run from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. in the Tillamook Room, Administration Building, at the Oregon Department of Forestry headquarters, 2600 State St., in Salem.

A general public comment period is scheduled near the start of the meeting. Public comment on specific agenda items will be received as the board takes them up. Agenda materials will be available prior to the meeting at: www.oregon.gov/odf/Pages/board/index.aspx, under the 2015 meeting link.