The Oregon Board of Forestry approved more than 100 changes to the Forest Practices Act. (Photo by Xiao Zhou/Getty Images via Canva)

The Oregon Board of Forestry approved more than 100 changes to the Forest Practices Act at a special board meeting on Wednesday, the agency reported.

The rule changes were a result of the mediated and groundbreaking Private Forest Accord that brought together representatives from conservation groups and the timber industry. The changes will impact timber harvest activities on more than 10 million acres of private and nonfederal forests in the state.

“The rules we adopted are just one of a great many changes coming from the Private Forest Accord that will advance how Oregon protects its natural resources and responds to the climate change crisis, while also providing some stability for the communities and economies that rely on the forest products industry,” said Jim Kelly, chair of the Oregon Board of Forestry. “This agreement captures the spirit of cooperation and negotiation we have in this state, where we move past our differences to find solutions.” 

According to the Oregon Board of Forestry, the goal of the PFA and the Forest Practices Act rule changes is to provide long-term certainty to industry while providing enhanced protection to critical aquatic species.

“The timber industry is vital to many rural Oregon communities,” Kelly said. “This agreement balances these critical social and economic components with the need to better protect critical forest habitat, which is also incredibly beneficial for Oregonians.”

ODF worked closely with the PFA authors to write the new rules that cover several key areas including:

• New and wider stream buffers to protect stream habitat that supports salmon, steelhead, bull trout and amphibians.

• New design standards and requirements to inventory, maintain and manage forest roads, with an emphasis on replacing culverts on fish-bearing streams.

• Steep slopes will have more trees retained to improve slope stability and reduce sediment that can impact fish habitat. 

• Enhanced monitoring to better evaluate rule compliance.

• A new adaptive management program to advise the Board of Forestry on future rule adjustments.

 In addition to rule changes, recent legislation also funded the creation of a small forestland owner assistance office, establishment of tax credits to small landowners, started the development of a habitat conservation plan for aquatic species and made investments in training and outreach.