4th Quarter Legislative Liaison Report

Covering October, November, and December

Stephen Kafoury assisted Vanessa Blackstone and Laura Tesler with arranging a Meet and Greet with newly elected Senator Sara Gelser. A total of 25 ORTWS members met with Senator Gelser November 17th, where we introduced her to ORTWS, explained what our goals are, and that a sizeable part of her constituency is made up of biologists that care about conservation issues and the importance of science in political decision-making. Mr. Kafoury also continued to work on the Wild Bird Seed Bill in preparation for the 2015 legislative session. Brett Brownscombe, Governor Kitzhaber’s natural resource advisor, sought Mr. Kafoury’s input on the bill. Mr. Kafoury also coordinated between ODFW and ORTWS on criteria for a new ODFW Director, the budget, and the ODFW Conservation Leaders Meeting. Warren Aney, one of our retired members that has diligently worked alongside Mr. Kafoury on legislative topics for years attended the meeting in Portland. ODFW will be holding a series of stakeholder and technical committee meetings this winter and spring, and seek ORTWS assistance. Reports with updates on actions and effects on the ground will be generated, and ORTWS should ensure we receive those reports. There is also a strong likelihood that the wolf may begin the delisting process, as four breeding pairs of wolves in the state for three years is the trigger for delisting.

Mr. Kafoury also met with Quinn Read, the lobbyist for Oregon Wild, at her request. They discussed the upcoming 2015 legislative session and what topics are of interest to both Oregon Wild and ORTWS. As ORTWS is focused on providing scientific information to the legislature rather than lobbying for specific legislation, Quinn Read suggested that ORTWS pull together data on old growth forests for certain wildlife species to aid in the Elliott Forest discussion.

December was a busy month, and Mr. Kafoury interfaced with numerous legislators and lobbyists. There is a draft bill regarding lead ammunition in the works, with the Humane Society in favor. The Wild Bird Seed bill is gaining more momentum with the support of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association. Oregon is also moving ahead on its planning for sage grouse, despite the federal government funding entanglement. There are general funds in multiple places allocated to sage grouse program, including the Working Farms and Forests initiative, OWEB, Fire Protection Fund, Wild Bird Seed Bill, and directly from the general fund and lottery. County Commissioners from Eastern Oregon are on board after much negotiation.

The SageCon meeting continued the cooperative effort among all the stakeholders, and the plan is highly individualized with over 66 different conservation measures. Fire and invasives are top priorty, and the plan states they do not respond directly to regulation, but “disturbance” caused by human development can increase the danger from both. Fire management has three elements: Pre-fire (fire breaks and greenbelts), fire management (focusing of resources), and post-fire (reseeding). Disturbance effects requires both avoidance and mitigation, even in low quality habitats. Renewable energy and mining projects are the most likely sources of disturbance at present.

Brett Brownscombe was appointed interim Deputy Director for ODFW, and thanks to Mr. Kafoury’s work he came to the January 9 Board meeting to discuss relevant issues between ODFW and ORTWS. Laurie Annun is replacing Brett in the governor’s natural resource office in the mean time, and Mr. Kafoury plans to meet with her in January.

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Posted on January 25, 2015, in Legislative Topics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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