UPDATE 3/4: We’re excited to announce that the slate of nominees has been confirmed to the Board of Forestry! 350PDX looks forward to working with this new, more balanced Board to fight for climate-oriented forest practices. A huge thank you to everyone who volunteered their time and effort to help us win this campaign!

For our first Forest Defense campaign of 2021, we’re teaming up with residents and organizations from around the state to seize this moment to change the Board of Forestry, and hopefully the direction of forest policy in the state. We aim to shift its membership away from big timber interests, towards one that more accurately represents all Oregonians and that will the critical need for truly climate-oriented forestry practices.

What is the Oregon Board of Forestry (BOF)?

The BOF is a seven member citizen board whose mission is to “lead Oregon in implementing policies and programs that promote sustainable management of Oregon’s public and private forests.” See their website here. The BOF is critical to the shape of forestry and forest carbon storage in Oregon. They appoint and supervise the State Forester, who manages the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). They also manage five of the six state forests, totaling around 640,000 acres.

How are board members chosen?

Members are nominated by the Governor. If nominees are approved by the State Senate Rules and Executive Appointments Committee, the state Senate votes on these nominees for appointment. 

Why is this important right now?

This is a rare opportunity to influence our politicians to shift the composition of the board, as over half of the board is turning over this year. Board members serve up to two consecutive four-year terms. Two of the members’ terms officially expired in February 2020, and two others expired in December 2020. The Rules and Executive Appointments Committee did not advance slates proposed by Governor Brown in June 2020 and again in September 2020. This means that four spots remain vacant today. A new slate of nominees will go to the Committee early this year and, if approved, voted on sometime in the coming months.

What does the timber industry want the board to look like?

This governmental body comes from a long history in Oregon of forestry defined as how to cut the most trees. For this reason, the timber industry has historically had more influence over this board than other stakeholders, with membership leaning towards people with strong industry ties. The timber industry has a strong interest in retaining their dominance on the board. As Bob Van Dyk, Wild Salmon Center’s policy director for Oregon and Washington, said in a September Oregonian article: “Industry can count as well as I can. Bottom line, they want four votes.”

What do we want the board to look like?

We believe that the big timber agenda doesn’t align with our state’s current priorities. Because of the looming issue of climate change, it is critically important that this board prioritizes carbon sequestration and storage on Oregon’s forest lands. We want a board that makes rules and recommendations grounded in science, for the greatest possible good, rather than for special interests. This means leaving more trees in the ground, where they store carbon, rather than harvesting them, which releases most of their stored carbon into the atmosphere. To do this, we want a board with a more accurate and balanced representation of all stakeholders in forest health and sustainability; people who will bring important perspectives to offset big timber’s agenda – including climate scientists, ecologists, and more diverse voices such as native tribal members and other BIPOC people. 

How can we influence this process?

  1. We can put pressure on our state Senators, who vote to confirm the nominees, by letting them know that this is an important issue to their constituents and encouraging them to support the new slate of nominees.
  2. We can educate our communities about what the BOF does, and why this is important to all Oregonians.