FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 26, 2012
Forestry Board Moves to Protect Key Conservation Areas on State Lands
Strong local support from Tillamook, Clatsop and Washington Counties
Tillamook, OR: With a 4-2 vote today, the Oregon Board of Forestry voted to approve the creation of a new category of state lands that will be protected by rule for conservation of clean water, fish, and older forest habitat. The step marks a significant milestone since Governor Kitzhaber called on the Board late last year to establish new protections for high quality fish and wildlife habitat across the 500,000 acre Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests in northwest Oregon, and other state managed lands.
Fish conservation and forest protection groups have long called for creating a system of ‘conservation areas’ on state forest lands aimed at protecting high quality fish habitat, recreation areas, and the oldest forests on state lands from clearcutting and other damaging activities. “Visible and durable protections for clean water, fish habitat, and popular recreation areas are essential for public forests like the Tillamook and Clatsop. We’re pleased with the direction the Board headed today,” said Bob Van Dyk of the Wild Salmon Center.
In an unprecedented showing, dozens of residents from rural Tillamook and Clatsop Counties attended the meeting in support of strong conservation measures on state forests.
“It’s encouraging that the Department and Board of Forestry are beginning to recognize wild salmon and steelhead as a valuable forest product. Establishing core, protected, conservation areas is key to maintaining these iconic fish, which are a critical economic driver in our rural coastal communities. There should be lasting protections in place so we can introduce our children to this treasured natural resource,” said Bob Reese of the Tillamook County based Northwest Guides and Anglers Association.
“The rivers of Oregon’s north coast provide some of the best steelhead and salmon fishing in Oregon – long term habitat protection is key if we are to keep this resource strong,” said Ian Fergusson of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders.
“We applaud the Board and Department of Forestry, as well as Governor Kitzhaber, for moving forward with a clear vision for better protecting places like Kings Mountain and its hiking trails, fish habitat along the Salmonberry River, and blocks of older forests that provide rich wildlife habitat and clean water,” said Brian Pasko of the Oregon Chapter Sierra Club.
The Board’s vote today directs the Department of Forestry to establish by administrative rule a new land management category for lands with a protected status or high conservation focus. In the next phase, the Department will develop language for the draft rule and take public comment including on how and where lands will be protected.