The Private Forest Accord: Oregon Legislature Paves the Way for Forest Practices Law Changes | Schwabe, Williamson and WyattPC

0

The Oregon Legislature passed three bills as part of its February 2022 session that form a comprehensive package of amendments to the Oregon Forest Practices Law (Senate Bill 1501), create a tax credit for small forest owners (Senate Bill 1502) and update the tax on forest harvesting (House Bill 4055).

The bills stem from negotiations between private logging companies, small forest owners, conservation groups and fisher organizations. The negotiations were facilitated by the Governor’s office and resulted in an agreement known as the Private Forest Accord. The group produced a detailed report on the Private Forest Accord that was presented to the Oregon Legislature along with three draft legislative concepts. The statutory changes are intended to meet approval requirements for a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and subsequent Bycatch Permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act which would cover certain fish and amphibian species such as native salmon and trout, bull trout, mountain whitefish, green sturgeon, coastal giant salamander and frog- Coastal Tailed. The HCP and PTI for fish and amphibian species would likely be for periods of 50 and 25 years respectively.

Senate Bill 1501

The Forest Practices Act (FPA), codified as Oregon Revised Statutes 527.610–527.770 and implemented by regulations found in Oregon Administrative Rules Chapter 629, regulates operations on private forest lands in Oregon State.

Senate Bill (SB) 1501 acts as the primary driver of changes to the FPA by requiring the State Board of Forestry to adopt rules consistent with the Private Forest Accord report in a single set of rules. The Commission is required to adopt the set of rules no later than November 30, 2022. The rules require, among other things, the following:

  • A watercourse classification system on private forest lands that corresponds to timber harvest limits and prescribes other management activities in riparian buffer zones (riparian management zones). The set of rules will establish significantly larger buffer zones, with varying lengths depending on the classification of watercourses.
  • New limits on timber harvesting on steep slopes. Oregon law currently regulates timber harvesting in landslide-prone areas based on the risks posed to public safety. The rule set will extend this by adding sediment sources and debris flow pathways that impact aquatic habitat and riparian management areas to slope regulations.
  • A 20-year logging road inventory and assessment system that will be used to regulate logging roads. During the first five years, landowners will be required to submit an initial road inventory to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which will be required to be followed by an annual report each year until the inventory and the assessment is complete.
  • A small forest owner program for owners of less than 5,000 acres of forest land. These landowners will have different shoreline, slope and road management options, different reporting requirements and the ability to participate in incentive programs.

SB 1501 also directs the Forestry Board to adopt rules for post-disturbance harvesting (i.e. salvage logging) by November 30, 2025 and to initiate the development of logging rules attached within three years.

Finally, SB 1501 would also prohibit commercial beaver trapping, with some exceptions.

Senate Bill 1502

SB 1502 works in conjunction with SB 1501 by adding a tax credit for qualifying small timber owners (those with less than 5,000 acres of timber land in the state) who follow standard riparian timber harvesting restrictions that will be set out in the rules package, as opposed to the election of a minimum smallholder forest owner option which will be made available under the same.

House Bill 4055

House Bill (HB) 4055 extends and increases the Preferred Taxes on Merchantable Forest Products Harvested from Forest Lands currently applicable under ORS 321.015 and institutes an additional Preferred Tax on Merchantable Forest Products Harvested from Forest Lands .

The preferential tax on merchantable forest products harvested from forest lands for the purposes of forestry research, experimentation and studies under ORS 321.015(1) is extended to calendar year 2023 from 90 to 102.49 cents per thousand board feet.

The Preferential Tax on Merchantable Forest Products Harvested from Forest Lands for the Purposes of Administering the FPA under ORS 321.015(3) is extended to calendar year 2023 from 138.72 to 207 .02 cents per thousand board feet.

Privileged tax on merchantable forest products harvested from forest lands for the purpose of investing in professional forestry education at Oregon State University College of Forestry under ORS 321.015(4) is extended to 2023 , and the amount remains at 10 cents per thousand board feet.

Specifically, HB 4055 adds an additional lien tax on merchantable forest products harvested from forest land for the purpose of funding mitigation of the effect of forestry practices on aquatic species. This tax is conditional on the approval of an HCP by the federal National Marine Fisheries Service or the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the subsequent issuance of an ITP.

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.