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Salmon-protection plan upheld
Ballot measure could undo effect of forest board’s decision
September 9, 2004
A plan to protect key salmon habitats in state forests remains in place after the Oregon Board of Forestry meeting Wednesday.
The plan, called the Salmon Anchor Habitat Strategy, targets 150,000 acres in the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests that are key salmon areas. It places restrictions on timber harvest in those areas.
Fish advocates praised the plan and called for more restrictions to protect endangered salmon. The timber industry and two county commissioners wanted the board to remove the plan because of the impact on timber revenue.
“Along with other conservation groups and salmon biologists, we believe your strategy falls extremely short of the efforts necessary to adequately protect, much less restore, the remaining runs of salmon on the north coast of Oregon,” said Brent Davies of Ecotrust, an environmental group in Portland. “The conservation measures included in your (salmon plan) should be the minimal steps toward protecting salmon. …”
The plan includes a no-timber-harvest, 100-foot buffer zone along any fish-bearing streams and restricts timber harvest on steep slopes, especially near waterways. On other state forest lands, there is a 25-foot buffer zone along waterways.
It’s the timber restrictions that worry county officials and timber-industry executives.
“We aren’t going to be able to reach a goal of 222 million board feet a year on the Tillamook (state forest),” Tillamook County Commissioner Paul Hanneman said. “We won’t realize the revenue we thought we were going to get.”
The Oregon Board of Forestry adopted the plan in March 2003, but the state legislature, in a budget note, directed the agency to go back and evaluate the plan. A citizen group with support from the Institute for Natural Resources spent the past 10 months doing just that.
The citizen group did not agree about the plan: Half of the group urged the board to keep it in place and the other half asked the board to dump the salmon strategy.
“We want fish places protected,” said David Moskowitz of The Wild Salmon Center, a member of the citizen group.
Moskowitz praised the plan, saying it recognizes that trees on slopes prevent fine sediment from entering streaming but allow woody debris to gather in waterways and provide habitat for fish.
Trout Unlimited, Ecotrust and American Lands Alliance also supported the salmon plan.
Opponents of the plan said there is no scientific evidence that the existing rules regarding timber harvest don’t protect fish habitat and water quality.
Even though the board approved the plan Wednesday, its future is unclear given that the Tillamook 50/50 ballot measure outlines a new forest-management plan for the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests. If the measure passes, a team of scientists could keep, replace or otherwise change the salmon strategy.
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