The ORTWS legislative affairs committee and the conservation affairs committee have been busy in 2017. For more information on what legislative and conservation issues ORTWS has been involved with and to read comment letters visit our policy page!
The Wildlife Society provided testimony on the need for improved management of wild horses and burros on public land
John Goodell, Vice-president elect of the Oregon Chapter of TWS, represented the national and state chapter of The Wildlife Society at the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting in Redmond, OR in April. He testified on behalf of TWS regarding the Society’s stance on the controversial topic of wild horse and burro management on public lands. Click here to read the full article.
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.
ORTWS will be meeting with Senator-elect Sara Gelser on November 17th to discuss the viewpoints of our Membership and let her know how many biologists are in her district. She is running for Senate on a strong platform focused on family and education, and ORTWS is providing our members this opportunity to discuss pressing issues in the realm of wildlife. The Wild Bird Seed bill, science in legislation, and the importance of wildlife management are just some of the topics we will likely discuss.
We strongly encourage all members that live in Senate District 8 to attend, as Senator-elect Gelser is now your representative! Other members are welcome as well! If you are curious if you are in District 8, you can check the State Senate Interactive Map here; District 8 covers Corvallis, Philomath, Albany, and Tangent, plus outlying areas. Feel free to pass this along to other interested parties that may not be members – and encourage them to join! Dues are only $15 a year!
To help us get a feel for how many people may come, please RSVP to Vee Blackstone by November 14! And because it is convenient right below, click on the poll!
The Wild Bird Seed bill is back on track, with our legislative liason working with the Governor’s natural resource advisor. A placeholder concept of the bill has been submitted to the legislative counsel for drafting, with intent to develop the bill for the February legislative session.
Mr. Kafoury brought forward an opinion-editorial published in the Oregonian on July 27, 2014. ORTWS drafted a reply, but our piece was not published despite Mr. Kafoury’s inquiries with the newspaper. Our piece is here on the news blog; a piece authored by the Oregon Zoo was published in response representing.
Mr. Kafoury also networked the Oregon Conservation Network with ODFW regarding budgeting support, and has been in contact with the Governor’s office and the House Ways and Means Committee to find additional support for the agency.
ORTWS is also setting a time to meet with Representative Sara Gelser in Corvallis, likely in November, to establish a relationship and let her know that many of her constituents are interested in things other than education. Biologists in the area are strongly encouraged to attend. More information will be coming soon.
Mr. Kafoury also submitted our quarterly report to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission