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
On July 27, 2014 Susan Recce submitted an Opinion piece to OregonLive (“Bans on lead ammunition are misguided”) that ignores the decades of wildlife research and peer-reviewed science which clearly documents the toxicity of lead ammunition to wildlife. Since the late 1950s, wildlife exposure to lead ammunition has been well investigated. The use of lead ammunition results in widespread avian mortality throughout the United States. Accordingly, more than half of the states have instituted restrictions on the use of lead ammunition to minimize effects to upland game birds, eagles, waterfowl, and other wildlife. In 2008, TWS collaborated with the American Fisheries Society (AFS) to produce a technical review on lead ammunition (Sources and Implications of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on Natural Resources) A 2009 position statement by The Wildlife Society also summarizes the negative effects of lead ammunition on wildlife.
As a local organization of scientists and wildlife professionals, the Oregon Chapter of the Wildlife Society promotes wise conservation and management of wildlife resources in Oregon and strives to educate the public on the effects of lead ammunition and potential alternatives. We encourage our members to stay up to date on this important issue.