The appointments of Sybil Ackerman of the Lazar Foundation and Gary Springer of Starker Forests to the Board of Forestry will be heard tomorrow (Thursday) morning by the Senate Rules Committee.
There seems to be a wide range of support for these two as a slate. If all goes well, confirmation should happen next week.
Ms. Ackerman will replace Bill Hutchison, starting in July.
Mr. Springer will replace Larry Giustina, starting in May.
WHAT THESE APPOINTMENTS MEAN
This is, of course, a chance for a fresh start by the board. But it seems unlikely.
If Ms. Ackerman follows Mr. Hutchison’s voting patterns, and Mr. Springer follows Mr. Giustina’s, the overall voting pattern on the board would remain unchanged. Currently, there is a solid block of four, led by Chair Blackwell, that is moving to dramatically reduce the environmental protections on state forests.
What is more, Chair Blackwell and Forester Brown have their eyes set on the underlying mandate of Greatest Permanent Value (GPV) that guides state forest management. Last legislative session, Mr. Blackwell made it clear where he wants to go. He testified that there was too much emphasis on “habitat needs and riparian functions” in the law guiding state forests. He further said that he hoped to revise the Greatest Permanent Value mandate for state lands in a way that “brings it more in line with, more parallel, with the Oregon Forest Practice Act” which regulates private lands. (See more of his testimony at this link.)
There is a public process underway to consider revisions to GPV, and under the leadership of Mr. Blackwell and Forester Brown it seems likely there will be an end to the current requirement to restore aquatic ecosystems and an increase in the discretion of the State Forester — both resulting in a more industrial model of forest management on our state lands.
We will, however, have a new governor in less than a year, and that could mean something. One current candidate, former Governor Kitzhaber, made it clear last June in a letter to the Board that he opposed the changes that are underway.
A major revision of state forest law and policy may well be done, though, before a new governor takes office.
BOARD OF FORESTRY MEETING NEXT WEDS FEB. 10th
The BOF meets next Wednesday the 10th in Salem, and state forests are the main agenda item. Agenda here.