Oregon’s Landmark Western State Forest Habitat Conservation Plan Stalls as Stakeholders Seek Greater Input

Attempts to wrap up Oregon’s landmark Western State Forest Habitat Conservation Plan by state and federal officials are being met by stakeholders who are issuing new demands and asking for final tweaks that could potentially delay the overdue plan into 2025, according to reporting by the Oregon Capital Chronicle (11-15-23).

Oregon’s endeavor to balance logging in 630,000 acres of Western state forests with protections for threatened animal species has taken decades to negotiate and is already more than two years behind schedule, with the original completion date set for the fall of 2022.

At stake for timber companies and the two counties that rely disproportionately on timber revenues to fund public services, there is the potential for financial losses that could cost logging and milling jobs, as well as money for police and schools.

Conservationists say at stake are the fate of 17 threatened species and thousands of acres that make up some of Oregon’s last old-growth forests.

For the state of Oregon, the risk of lawsuits under the federal Endangered Species Act remains as long as the plan is not finalized by the Oregon Board of Forestry and approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The latest demands for changes to the plan come from 10 conservation groups that say it still does not go far enough.

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