State Forest Conservation Area Open Houses!

March 10, 2014

The Department of Forestry is marking the implementation of High Value Conservation Areas with a series of open houses. These events are to celebrate and understand this classification and to explore the areas themselves. There will be self-guided tours, Google Earth maps, and ODF staff to answer questions.

These are great opportunities to pack the room and show support for Conservation Areas on State Forest lands. Make clear to the Department of Forestry that we value these areas and want them to stay!

  • March 17: 6:00 – 8:00 pm, Forest Grove ODF District Office, 801 Gales Creek Rd, Forest Grove
  • March 20: 6:00 – 8:00 pm, Astoria ODF District Office, 92219 HWY 202, Astoria
  • March 22: 10:00 am – Noon, Tillamook ODF District Office, 5005 3rd St, Tillamook

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Last Chance to Get Paid to Go Solar!

February 18, 2014


Oregon’s Solar Incentive Program is coming to an end soon!

The popular Oregon Solar Incentive Program (OSIP) has one last application period coming up on April 1, 2014. Sign up now for a free consultation, or read more about the program below.

The Oregon Solar Incentive Payment program (also known as the Feed in Tariff) has been a huge driver to the success of Sierra Club’s “Go Solar+” program.

In contrast to standard net metering, the Solar Payment program actually pays the owner a premium rate for the solar power they produce for 15 years.

Depending on which county the property is in, the rate varies from $.252/kW-Hr to $.39/kW-Hr. Factoring in the up-front cost of the system, a 30% Federal Tax Credit, and the monthly energy savings and payments generated, most solar projects break even in 5 – 7 years. Great news for you, and our planet!

April 1st is the deadline for the next round of Solar Payment applications in Oregon. Click here to request a free home evaluation and learn more about Oregon’s Solar Payment Program!

Are you eligible?
• You must be a Pacific Power or PGE customer in the state of Oregon to qualify
• Systems must be 5kW or greater in size
• Must be new equipment installed by an Energy Trust Trade Ally partner
• System must be sized to produce 90% or less of your annual usage
• One system may be installed for each meter on the property
• Capacity reservations are allocated via a lottery on April 1, 2014

Please join us and become part of the clean energy solution.  Click here to request a free home evaluation and learn more about Oregon’s Solar Payment Program!


2014 Legislative Update

February 15, 2014
Oregon capitol

Nope, the flowers aren’t blooming yet. But we’re already dreaming of spring and the end of the 2014 legislative session!

The 2014 “short session” of the Oregon Legislative Session is two weeks in, and Sierra Club staff and volunteers are closely tracking and testifying on numerous bills. The frantic pace of the short session – with its tight deadlines and quick turnaround times – makes it even harder than usual to keep up with everything that’s happening, but we’re doing our best.

Thursday, February 13, was the deadline for most bills to have made it out of their committees of origin. Sadly, some bills we were supporting have fallen by the wayside, but on the bright side, many really terrible bills also did! Here are some of the bills we’ve been working on:

  • Senate Bill 1510 would have created a process for a more coordinated and comprehensive environmental review of large projects in Oregon by essentially implementing a state-level version of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  While the bill did not make it out of committee, there is still likely to be an interim workgroup to work on the issue and report back to the 2015 Oregon Legislature.
  • Senate Bill 1516 would establish a planning process for turning an old railroad corridor between Banks and Tillamook into a “Salmonberry Trail.” Since we are active members of the North Coast State Forest Coalition, we are enthusiastic about such a trail and strongly support SB 1516.  It has passed out of the Senate Rural Communities Committee and is now being evaluated in the Ways and Means Committee.
  • Senate Bill 1569 would have begun the process of phasing out certain toxic chemicals from children’s toys sold in Oregon. Unfortunately the bill has now been scaled back to just require the creation of a list of chemicals of concern and require manufacturers to notify Oregon public health officials when their children’s products contain these chemicals. While we would have preferred a stronger bill, we believe this bill is a good start and are pleased that it has passed out of the Senate Health Care Committee and gone to Ways and Means.
  • Senate Joint Memorial 201 is merely a statement from the Legislature to the U.S. Congress and to the Administration that reforms are necessary on Oregon’s “O&C Lands”.  While such a measure is essentially meaningless, we believe the language of the memorial is heavily slanted toward timber production on our backyard forests and neglects the important functions the O&C Lands provide for recreation, tourism, and clean water. And fundamentally, decisions about O&C Lands are simply outside the purview of the Oregon Legislature. We opposed SJM 201 in its original committee and it was sent to the Senate Rules Committee just before the bill deadline. We will continue to closely track its progress.
  • House Bill 4126 is an important bill to help defend Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). A very destructive ballot measure had been proposed for 2014 ballot to incorporate large-scale hydroelectric power into the RPS, which would have been rendered the RPS essentially meaningless and dramatically undercut the development of real renewable power in the state. HB 4126 was the result of a settlement between many parties to the debate over the hydro ballot measure and when it passes, it will remove the specter of that ballot measure. The settlement is not perfect, but we are supporting it as a way to make the ballot measure go away. HB 4126 has passed the House unanimously and is now headed to the Senate.
  • House Bill 4042 would extend net metering to wave energy in Oregon. While wave energy technology is still in its infancy in Oregon, we believe that if could offer another viable source of renewable energy for our state. Since net metering is a well-established mechanism to help facilitate the distributed generation of power, we support HB 4042, which has passed the House and gone to the Senate.
  • House Bill 4100 would require labels for products containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients and would create a legislative referral to allow Oregon citizens to sign off on that proposition in the November 2014 election. We have concerns about the potential impacts of GE foods on our environment and on public health, but this is also fundamentally a right-to-know bill that will allow consumers to make informed choices about the products they purchase. It’s still sitting in the House Rules Committee awaiting further action (Rules is one of the handful of committees that weren’t bound by the February 13 deadline).
  • House Bill 4113 is the bill to move forward on the Oregon-only funding approach for the Columbia River Crossing (CRC). And while we do have some concerns about potential environmental impacts of the current version of the CRC, we are also opposing HB 4113 because we believe the project is simply fiscally irresponsible as it is currently proposed. However, there’s a tremendous amount of political momentum behind the bill (and no shortage of vehement opposition!), and it has passed out of its original committee and is headed to Ways and Means.

Things are continuing to move at a furious pace in the Capitol. We’ll try to stay on top of it all and make sure Oregon’s environment doesn’t bear the brunt of the frenetic doings of the short session. Stay tuned!


Stakeholder Group Sends Ideas to the Board of Forestry

February 14, 2014


The first milestone towards a new Forest Management Plans for our North Coast State Forests has concluded with a stakeholder group sending a variety of proposals to the Board of Forestry for further consideration. In total, five plans were formally presented and a number of other elements were discussed. Not surprisingly, sawmill representatives pushed forward some alarming ideas, including a plan that places timber production over all other values, a plan to treat 70% of the forest like a tree farm, and even a plan to sell our public land to the highest bidder! While ideas like this may indeed provide immediate financial benefit to some, their effect on fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, and recreation opportunities would be devastating.

Oregon’s Forest Practices Act: failing to protect water quality since 1972 (PRIVATE LAND. photo by F. Eatherington)

Clearcuts: better for the environment?  (photo by F. Eatherington)

Clearcuts: better for the environment?
(PRIVATE LAND. photo by F. Eatherington)

Tillamook County Commissioner Tim Josi did not provide a plan of his own, but endorsed all three of the above proposals and called for more clearcuts instead of thinning. He stated that clearcuts have less impact on the environment than thinning operations, though he admitted to a lack of evidence. The Commissioner also rejected the notion that the Department of Forestry should diversify its revenue, instead insisting that the Agency should remain addicted to logging as its only means of funding. Such a path is not a sustainable option for a healthy ODF or healthy forests!

One other proposal, a variation of the current Forest Management Plan, called for modest increases to conservation outcomes and timber harvest levels. Our allies put forward a plan that would achieve the goal of increasing conservation values while partially decoupling the Department’s finances from timber revenue by diversifying its funding. This vision would drastically help to create better fish and wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities while also allowing the forest to be actively managed.

Considering the recently concluded litigation on the Elliott State Forest, which resulted in some exploratory land sales, the Board of Forestry should strongly consider obtaining a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) moving forward. An HCP would provide predictability and certainty for timber revenue, by preventing lawsuits and would secure habitat for endangered and threatened species. The big timber representatives rejected this notion, though even Tim Josi is open to the idea.

Even as some sawmill interests attempt to wipe conservation areas off the map, the Oregon Department of Forestry is planning a series of open houses to explain and celebrate new High Value Conservation Areas. These events will include self-guided tours, Google Earth maps, and ODF staff answering questions, so mark your calendar:

  • March 17: 6-8pm, Forest Grove ODF District Office, 801 Gales Creek Rd, Forest Grove
  • March 20: 6-8pm, Astoria ODF District Office, 92219 HWY 202, Astoria
  • March 22: 10am-noon, Tillamook District Office, 5005 3rd Street, Tillamook

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To find out more about our effort to protect the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests, visit forestlegacy.org, check out the Facebook page, or email Chris Smith.


Wolf Creek Conservation Area

February 5, 2014

A group of Oregonians from Astoria, Banks, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Portland, and Jewell recently went about exploring part of the Wolf Creek Terrestrial Habitat Anchor in the Tillamook State Forest. The 4,203 acres of this area are soon to be formally classified as “High Value Conservation Area,” a designation which thousands of Oregon Chapter Sierra Club members worked hard to create. Our hike took us through some diverse management areas, plenty of promising and recovering wildlife habitat, and the headwaters of the Salmonberry River.

We were exceptionally fortunate to be joined by Jim Thayer, whose knowledge of the Oregon Coast Range is nearly unmatched. His website, foresthiker.com, offers great trail descriptions, historical anecdotes, pieces of Indian lore, and some beautiful pictures. Jim is also the author of Portland Forest Hikes: Twenty Close-In Wilderness Walks.

Jim Thayer and his loyal, forest-exploring companion.

Jim Thayer and his loyal, forest-exploring companion

Thinned forest in the Wolf Creek area

Thinned forest in the Wolf Creek area

Our walk began just west of the Salmonberry headwaters in an area that had been logged in the last 10 years–a thinning operation that will hopefully help to achieve more complex forest structure by opening portions of the canopy without the tree-farm tactic of thickly replanting of seedlings. Overall, the amount of thinning in the Conservation Area was eye-opening and the Club will be vigilantly monitoring future timber sales to ensure that logging operations in this area are ecologically positive.

Though the latter part of our trek was spent bushwhacking, the massive network of logging roads and the very old elk-made pathways throughout the forest greatly expedited our cross-country travel. In the future, it would be great to see more recreational trails in the area (and fewer roads).

After some easy going on the elk trails, we took lunch after crossing a tributary creek of the Salmonberry. Along with some promising looking Steelhead spawning ground, the lunch spot offered a look into the Tillamook State Forest’s history and future: an old growth nurse stump which was likely a victim of the Tillamook burn or the salvage logging that followed, with a young tree blossoming out of the mossy top:

From death comes life...

From death comes life…

To find out more about the new Conservation Areas and our effort to protect these public lands, visit forestlegacy.org, like facebook.com/forestlegacy, or email campaign coordinator, Chris Smith.


Enviros Line Up Against Wyden’s Oregon Logging Bill

February 3, 2014

 

Western Oregon BLM old growth forest

Western Oregon BLM old growth forest

Over two dozen Oregon-centered conservation organization, including the Sierra Club, have sent a letter to Senator Ron Wyden opposing his O&C bill. The letter details how the bill would:

• weaken environmental laws and policies;
• dismantle the Northwest Forest Plan;
• not solve county budget problems;
• mandate agressive logging and harms water quality;
• fall short on old growth protection;
• dispose of and fragments public lands;
• offset major environmental harms with small conservation gains; and
• set a dangerous precedent for public lands across the nation.

The groups signing the letter are:

American Bird Conservancy, Audubon Society of Corvallis, Audubon Society of Portland, Bark, Benton Forest Coalition, Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Northwest, Coast Range Association, Dakubetebe Environmental Education Programs, Earthjustice, Environment America, Environment Oregon, Forest Web of Cottage Grove, Gifford Pinchot Task Force, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Lane County Audubon Society, Oregon Wild, Sierra Club, Soda Mountain Wilderness Council, Threatened and Endangered Little Applegate Valley, Umpqua Valley Audubon Society, Umpqua Watersheds, Western Environmental Law Center and Willamette Riverkeeper.

Click here to read the full text of the letter.

Contribute to EarthShare at your workplace: it’s so easy

January 3, 2014

Threats to our natural world are growing, as are demands on the lands, water, food, energy and other resources people and wildlife need to thrive. As green as Oregon is, it’s simply not enough. We need more people and businesses supporting the environmental movement. EarthShare is working to make that happen.

EarthShare Oregon, of which the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club is a member, engages people at their workplaces, bringing new support our organizations, both across Oregon and around the world. Through a single gift to EarthShare, you can easily support more than 70 of the best environmental organizations — or you can choose your favorites (like us!).

The Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club  is a proud member of EarthShare Oregon. What does this mean to you? If you work for the State of Oregon, the Federal Government, Kaiser Permanente, NW Natural, PGE, or one of more than 100 employers, you can make a regular donation from your paycheck that benefits your favorite Oregon conservation groups, including the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club! EarthShare’s workplace and online giving options are easy ways for you to share responsibility for stewarding Oregon’s environmental legacy.

Please invest today through EarthShare to help us plant more trees, recycle more waste, move more quickly to clean energy, protect more threatened land, and safeguard more clean water. Not only are you protecting Oregon’s environmental legacy, but you’re inviting and inspiring others to share in that responsibility.

If your workplace is not currently involved in an EarthShare giving campaign, establishing one is easy. EarthShare will work with your employer to set up a program that meets your company’s needs.

With your contribution through EarthShare, you can share in the responsibility for protecting Oregon’s natural legacy. For more information, please contact Jan Wilson at EarthShare: (503) 223-9015 or jan@earthshare-oregon.org; or visit http://earthshare-oregon.org/.


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