SALEM — Environmental groups and timber companies in Oregon, which have clashed for decades, on Monday unveiled a roadmap for overhauling forest practice regulations, a step which Gov. Kate Brown called “historic.”
“This agreement proves that we can build a better future for Oregonians if we work together with a willingness to compromise. Healthy forests and a vibrant forestry industry are not mutually exclusive,” Brown told a news conference with representatives
Leaders of around a dozen environmental groups, including Oregon Wild, the Audubon Society of Portland and Cascadia Wildlands, and a dozen timber companies, including Weyerhaeuser, one of the largest forest products companies in the world, and Lone Rock of Roseburg, signed the memorandum of understanding after quietly holding meetings in Salem and Portland.
They agreed to a process that will drive changes to Oregon forest practice regulations, including seeking a statewide habitat conservation plan to guarantee that critical habitat for endangered and threatened species is protected. Another goal is to create business certainty for Oregon’s timber-products industry. Oregon leads the nation in wood-products manufacturing but environmental groups and the timber industry have been backing rival initiative petitions which seem to put measures on the ballot, and have filed lawsuits.
Under the new agreement, both sides would “complete a stand-down from pursuing changes through the initiative process, related legal actions, and certain other relevant legislative and regulatory proceedings while the facilitated process is working.”