Earlier this week, the Oregon Board of Forestry voted to embark on a process to develop resource sites for coho salmon on private and state-owned land. The action took place after 22 conservation and fishing groups, including Trout Unlimited, petitioned the board under laws established by the Oregon Forest Practices Act. The Act requires the Board to develop resource sites for species listed under the state or federal endangered species acts. Oregon Coast Coho have been federally listed as threatened since 2011. Such sites are significant because, once established, the Board is required to determine whether forest practices conflict with the sites. If they do, the Board must adopt rules to protect the resources sites.
While the board’s vote doesn’t guarantee any action to protect coho habitat, it does put the species in the spotlight. TU is hopeful that this process along with other ongoing processes before the Board, such as efforts to consider additional streamside protections for fish-bearing streams in the Siskiyou region and efforts to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan for state-owned lands, will ensure a focus on the impacts that forest management has on aquatic species. The petition met heavy resistance from commercial logging interests, but ultimately prevailed on a 5-2 vote with board members Imeson, Deacon-Williams, McComb, Christoffersen, and Kelly in favor and board members Justice and Rose opposed.
Stay tuned for more updates from Wild Steelheaders and TU as the process unfolds.