Legislation was introduced Thursday to advance the historic agreement struck on February 10 between the environmental community and timber landowners.
Shortly after the deal was struck, Governor Kate Brown introduced HB 4168 as a placeholder to memorialize the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by 26 leaders of environmental advocacy groups and owners of large tracts of private timberland.
The bill was sent to the House committee on rules, and on Wednesday, the committee held a public hearing where Gina Zejdike, deputy chief of staff to the governor outlined key components to the MOU reflected in the proposed amendment (-2). In her oral testimony, Zejdike explained, “importantly, both sides have agreed to walk away from forestry related initiative petitions and related litigation, if the bill before you passes this Session.”
Zejdike referenced three main components in the legislation during her testimony. The bill does the following:
- Requires participation in a mediated process between forest landowners and environmental interests on changes to the Oregon Forest Practices Act;
- Establishes of a notice-based system for aerial pesticide spray requirements, prohibiting aerial pesticide spray within 300 feet of an inhabited dwelling, school, or water intake; and
- Establishes new buffer requirements for streams with domestic use, fish use, or both uses in the Rogue River drainage.
Greg Miller, lobbyist for timber industry and Bob Van Dyke, lobbyist for Wild Salmon Center testified on behalf of the parties involved in striking the deal.
The bill was amended and passed out of committee on Thursday, and now has been referred to the joint committee on ways and means for consideration of funding.
While both chambers are experiencing quorum deficiencies, regular committees have enough members, provided all majority party members are present, to pass bills through committee. However, the bill will have to clear both chambers to be signed into law, and the likelihood of quorum prior to the end of Session is unclear at this time, thus making the fate of the bill uncertain.
Questions remain regarding next steps for the timber landowners and environmental groups on ballot measures and litigation if the bill is unable to advance.
Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate