ONE YEAR PROGRESS REPORT
Agencies, Commissions, Boards Involved: Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB), Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD), Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), Oregon Global Warming Commission (OGWC), Board of Forestry (BOF)
What’s going well:
The Oregon Global Warming Commission (OGWC) has made important progress in developing proposed policies, programs, and practices to advance carbon sequestration and storage on natural and working lands, and has outlined a robust plan for stakeholder engagement and feedback on the proposed goals s. In collaboration with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB), and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), the OGWC developed a natural and working lands survey. The survey will help find ways to increase support for the implementation of climate-friendly practices that can enhance sequestration, reduce emissions, and increase climate resilience on Oregon’s natural and working lands.
We appreciate that OWEB is taking the lead on stakeholder engagement for the OGWC’s work on carbon sequestration on natural and working lands. OWEB has demonstrated a commitment to prioritizing climate in decision-making, and regularly discusses climate and equity strategies as part of its quarterly meetings. In October 2020, OWEB established a special committee on climate to identify ways to incorporate climate change into its grant programs. The committee’s work plan for the coming months commits to implementing OCAP’s directives through collaboration with other agencies and stakeholders. The Governor’s 2021-2023 proposed budget recommends a new position for OWEB that would be focused on the Water Vision program and climate, and would add capacity to help advance OCAP directives.
We are also pleased that ODF has begun to develop a Climate Change Carbon Plan as requested by the Governor’s Office. This plan seeks to elevate climate-smart forestry within ODF, and to position Oregon as a national leader in this space. There are numerous studies that demonstrate near-term opportunities to reduce emissions from logging and increase carbon sequestration in forests, and we hope to see these recommendations highlighted within the plan moving forward.
Lastly, the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) is putting together a Diversity Equity and Inclusion team to look at policies, programs, and enforcement through an equity lens. While it is only in the beginning stages, OWRD has identified this work as a high priority for the department. Further, OWRD has indicated interest in providing planning assistance and technical support to help county governments plan for climate impacts on water resources.
Areas for improvement:
While we recognize that the Board of Forestry is currently limited by delays in the appointment process for new members, that does not excuse their continuous failure to develop and implement climate-smart forestry as part of their oversight of ODF. For example, there has been a total failure to consider carbon impacts in post-fire salvage logging in the Santiam State Forest.
Further, challenging cultural barriers within ODF leadership--including the agency’s historic emphasis on maximizing logging revenues--have hindered the agency from prioritizing climate and equity in decision-making. ODF must evolve to adequately meet its climate and carbon sequestration directives under OCAP. Unfortunately, the agency continues to be limited in staff capacity, making it difficult for ODF to prioritize OCAP in its existing work. The legislature must provide funding for ODF to ensure the agency is adequately resourced to fulfill its directives under OCAP.
In addition, the Oregon Global Warming Commission’s 2021 biennial report to the legislature did not account for many climate-smart forest policy opportunities. In future reports, we would encourage OGWC to include recommendations that support science-based practices for reducing carbon emissions, increasing carbon storage, and improving other environmental co-benefits.
Lastly, the Oregon Department of Agriculture did not provide a clear process for stakeholder engagement and public input on its OCAP implementation plan. It also did not specify how the agency will prioritize equity and impacted communities. We appreciate that ODA acknowledges the importance of climate work for Oregon’s agricultural future, but the implementation plan does not reflect the urgency that the crisis demands. While the scope of the agency’s regulatory authority to address production practices on private lands is limited, the agency’s work with partners is a significant aspect of their ability to contribute effort to address the climate crisis. That work requires funding and personnel, such as the ongoing state-wide mapping of carbon sequestration potential being done in partnership with Oregon State University. Because the agency’s budget is so restricted, these partnerships may go unfunded and new partnerships may not be developed.
Opportunities for progress:
As we look toward the next year of OCAP implementation, our coalition will continue to engage with Oregon’s natural resource agencies and the Oregon Global Warming Commission to secure policies that advance carbon sequestration and storage on Oregon’s natural and working landscapes. Here are some key outcomes that our advocates will be working to secure in the coming months:
- ODA ensures their stakeholder advisory committees include expertise related to carbon sequestration and GHG reduction.
- ODA ensures all agency staff are aware of the OCAP directives and understand how they apply to their programs.
- OGWC continues to improve their surveys and public engagement opportunities so that meaningful input can be given by Oregon’s farmworkers and non-industrial forest owners.
- OGWC continues to play a leadership role in coordinating the state natural resource agencies’ efforts to advance carbon sequestration and climate mitigation on our natural and working lands.
- OGWC establishes an advisory committee made up of stakeholders for climate-smart policy on natural and working lands.
- OGWC conducts outreach to DEQ and provides consultation for alternative compliance mechanisms related to natural and working lands.
- OGWC develops robust monitoring and oversight criteria to ensure the state and relevant agencies achieve the goals for carbon sequestration and storage by Oregon’s natural and working landscapes.
- ODF establishes a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) office to ensure equity is prioritized in decision-making. This requires additional funding from the legislature.
- ODF, with support from the Board of Forestry, seeks near-term opportunities to implement climate-smart forestry (reduce emissions from logging and increase carbon sequestration in state and private forests).
1. Updating Goal G within the agency’s strategic plan so that it more accurately reflects the priorities of OCAP.
2. Seeking public engagement in developing its Climate Change Carbon Plan.
3. Completing its “Climate Change Carbon Plan” in a manner that reflects the best available science
4. Climate-smart forestry practices and policies should also incorporate equity and justice considerations, and ensure an inclusive decision making process. Leadership within ODF must make more of an effort to prioritize these initiatives moving forward.
- Additional funding for all natural resource agencies to ensure adequate staffing and resources to support work on emissions reductions, carbon sequestration, and equity and justice priorities.
- Cross-agency collaboration for policies and practices that reduce emissions from agency operations and advance carbon sequestration and storage on Oregon’s natural and working landscapes