HOUSE COMMITTEE ON

AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES

 

 

January 19, 2005   Hearing Room C

9:00 AM,       Tapes  1-3

Corrected 9/26/2005

MEMBERS PRESENT:            Rep. Patti Smith, Chair

Rep. Brian Boquist, Vice-Chair

Rep. Arnie Roblan, Vice-Chair

Rep. Terry Beyer

Rep. Chuck Burley

Rep. Mark Hass

Rep. Mac Sumner

 

STAFF PRESENT:                  Patrick Brennan, Committee Administrator

Jania Zeeb, Committee Assistant

 

 

ISSUES HEARD AND WITNESSES: 

                                    Organizational Meeting

                                                Adoption of Committee Rules

                                                Introduction of Committee Members and Staff

                                    Informational Meeting

                                                Fire Protection Program

                                                            Charlie Stone, Department of Forestry

                                                            Paul Washburn, National Wildfire Suppression Association

 

These minutes are in compliance with Senate and House Rules.  Only text enclosed in quotation marks reports a speaker’s exact words.  For complete contents, please refer to the tapes.

 

TAPE/#

Speaker

Comments

TAPE 1, A

004

Rep. Smith

Calls the meeting to order at 9:04 a.m. and opens the organizational meeting.

ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING

010

Patrick Brennan

Committee Administrator.  Explains the committee rules (EXHIBIT A).

023

Rep. Boquist

MOTION:  Moves to ADOPT the proposed Committee Rules.

024

 

VOTE:  6-0-1

EXCUSED:  1 - Rep. Hass

 

Chair Smith

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

026

Chair Smith

House District 52.  Introduces herself and her background in agriculture and natural resources. 

034

Rep. Sumner

House District 18.  Introduces himself, describes his district and his background in agriculture and natural resources.

039

Rep. Beyer

House District 12.  Introduces herself, describes her district and her background in agriculture and natural resources.

043

Rep. Boquist

House District 23.  Introduces himself, describes his district and his background in agriculture and natural resources.

049

Rep. Hass

House District 27.  Introduces himself and his background in agriculture and natural resources.

054

Rep. Burley

House District 54.  Introduces himself, describes his district and his background in agriculture and natural resources.

061

Rep. Roblan

House District 9.  Introduces himself, describes his district and his background in agriculture and natural resources.

071

Brennan

Introduces himself and the Committee Assistant.

085

Chair Smith

Closes the organizational meeting and opens the informational meeting.

FIRE PROTECTION PROGRAM INFORMATIONAL MEETING

087

Charlie Stone

Fire Projects Program Director, Department of Forestry (ODF).  Submits and presents a PowerPoint presentation on the Fire Protection Program (EXHIBIT B). Begins presentation with historical perspective of ODF.

134

Stone

Explains that as a result of the Compulsory Fire Patrol law, fire protection is mandated on all forest lands in the state.  States that Oregon landowner are responsible for providing for protection from fire on their lands.

168

Stone

Gives the background on Forest Protection Associations and their current role in protecting lands.  States that associations are key to success in this state because they hold the department accountable on budget issues, helps ODF have a relationship with the landowners they are serving.

194

Stone

Discusses ODF’s mission explains the department’s priorities.

207

Stone

Reviews and expands on the chart on page three (EXHIBIT B).

240

Stone

Explains the assessment system, which deals with program funding.

270

Stone

Comments on the close relationship ODF has with the Keep Oregon Green Association to help with fire prevention.

339

Stone

Talks about the districts the department is divided into.

384

Stone

Explains that the Northwest Compact is and how it shares resources between the listed states.

396

Stone

Refers to map of the Forest Protection Districts page four

(EXHIBIT B).

TAPE 2, A

026

Stone

Comments on the contract with the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and explains the relationship between the BLM and ODF.

050

Stone

Explains that the numbers on ODF Resources slide, page five (EXHIBIT B), are general and not exact.

072

Stone

Explains that the first four items in the list on page five (EXHIBIT B) are the key to the department’s initial attack operation, to help prevent fires or keep the fires small. 

103

Stone

Makes a reference to the department’s Measure 11 responsibilities, and the access it gives ODF to inmate crews through the Department of Corrections (DOC).  States that this can create tension with contract crews.

129

Stone

Expands on the Cooperator Resources slide page five (EXHIBIT B).

158

Stone

Recognizes that one area of concern that complicates fire protection is the wild land-urban interface, and talks about this issue as it relates to SB 360.  Expands on SB 360; what it does, and what they are doing as a result of it. 

197

Stone

Explains the Wildlife/Urban Interface map page six (EXHIBIT B).

220

Rep. Burley

Inquires after the kind of assistance that ODS is providing for people to help them comply with SB 360.

226

Stone

Responds that SB 360 does not provide direct assistance but it does allow ODF to assess those lands and that money can be spent on implementing the bill.  States that the department does have money that is coming in through National Fire Plan grants.  Mentions there is also a federal effort in this area so there are fuels modification grants that ODF can apply for and disperse to the community.  Remarks that the money is solely to get the landowners started, and that they will eventually need to maintain it on their own. 

247

Rep. Burley

Comments on the situation in upper Deschutes County as communities there struggle to get funding to implement their plan.  Inquires about assistance that can be given to help Deschutes County implement the plan.

255

Stone

Replies that ODF is attempting to get federal grants, but the department needs to reach all the areas in the state, including areas that have concerns but have not gotten any grant money.  Pledges to continue to try to get the money.

266

Rep. Roblan

Asks if people in the interface belong to associations.

269

Stone

Answers that they can, but membership is voted on by the members and they typically look for people with larger ownerships and seek to make sure the interests of the association and its members are looked after.  Says there is no bar to allowing individuals who own forest land.  States that of the 12 associations around the state some have only a few large land owners as members and others have more members with varying amounts of property. 

285

Chair Smith

States that the committee administrator will give the members a copy of SB 360.  Asks if it was a 2001 bill. 

293

Stone

Answered the measure was passed during the 1997 Legislative Session.

301

Rep. Burley

Declares that he wants to follow up on this discussion because of the problems in the upper Deschutes area and the vacant lot issue. 

308

Stone

Explains that SB 360 does not address the vacant lot issue directly.  Provides additional details on SB 360.

316

Stone

Explains the Public Ownership map and Fire Protection Status map on page seven (EXHIBIT B).

362

Stone

Talks about how the program is funded.

398

Stone

Explains what the District Budget covers.   Differentiates between the District Budget and the Emergency Cost Structure.

TAPE 1, B

014

Stone

Explains diagram representing funding page nine (EXHIBIT B).  States that the goal is to deal with the average worst season and to budget to that.

038

Stone

Expands on and explains Severity Resources.

056

Stone

Discusses chart of overall funding structure reviewed page ten (EXHIBIT B).

072

Stone

Lists where the department’s funds come from.

089

Stone

Refers to the insurance history chart page 11 (EXHIBIT B).  Explains the benefits participating in the insurance system.

118

Stone

Expands on the History of the Number of Fires chart page 12 (EXHIBIT B).

138

Rep. Roblan

Inquires if these amounts include federal amounts.

140

Stone

Answers that the numbers do not include federal amounts, this chart is just the land that the Department of forestry protects.

142

Rep. Roblan

Asks if this is also along with the other associations?

143

Stone

Responds that this is correct. 

146

Stone

Expands on ODF Performance Measures chart page 14 (EXHIBIT B).

170

Stone

Explains the chart on Pacific Northwest Fire Agencies fire history 1998-2002, page 12 (EXHIBIT B)

189

Stone

Touches on short-term issues that might be seen this session.

230

Rep. Roblan

Concur with him and adds a comment.

235

Stone

Thanks Rep. Roblan and continues with presentation.

281

Stone

Refers to the long terms issues and discusses the importance of maintaining the ability to aggressively fight fire. 

314

Stone

Refers to (EXHIBIT C), which is the department’s strategic plan for fire protection from 2004 to 2011.

320

Sumner

Calls on Mr. Stone to dispel the myth that early settlers would intentionally set fire to forests to create agriculture and grazing land.

333

Stone

Responds that humans have used fires in the past to clear land.  In terms of the largest fires it is unknown if those were set intentionally. 

350

Rep. Roblan

Notes that the department makes resources a priority before property, but the federal government reverses those priorities.

358

Stone

Responds affirmatively.

361

Rep. Roblan

Inquires if another factor that can hamper the aggressive fighting of a fire is because the resources are set in a different area. 

364

Stone

Responds that Rep. Roblan is correct, that there are a number of factors that are involved.  States that fighting fires in wilderness areas requires different resources than those in urban areas. 

384

Tim Keith

Assistant State Forester.  Submits and presents a PowerPoint presentation regarding the Fire Program (EXHIBIT D).

TAPE 2, B

010

Keith

Points out that the department is experience a loss of institutional knowledge due to retirements.  Asserts that stakeholders need to remove some of the barriers that keep them from actively participating in the fire fighting process.

016

Keith

Discusses the outcome of the 2003 Legislature’s direction to review the forest fire fighting system. 

026

Keith

Expands on the six key emphasis areas of the fire program review.

047

Keith

Gives the status of the review, where the department is at now with the review and what needs to be implemented.

061

Keith

Remarks that throughout the process of the fire review the department received assistance from Oregon State University’s Institute for Natural Resources under Gail Achterman’s direction.  Refers to draft copies of the final report background (EXHIBIT E).

073

Rep. Hass

Inquires if they have data on cigarette-caused fires, to what extent cigarette-caused fires are a problem and whether there is anything more that can be done about it.

080

Stone

Replies that the two leading sources of human-caused fires are debris burning and equipment caused fires smoking has declined as a cause but it is third or fourth.  In order to do something about it we can use mass media and education in schools, and fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility.

095

Keith

Points out that Keep Oregon Green is an important program for the education of the public.  Says that ODF is developing strategies to try to improve the messages that they send.  Reports that cigarette-caused fires are on a decline.

104

Chair Smith

Inquires if cigarette-caused fire are included in the debris fire group.

105

Stone

Responds that fires caused by cigarettes are in a classification by themselves.

112

Rep. Roblan

Wonders if there are new technologies that are eliminating the need for  of slash burning to get rid of the debris.

115

Stone

Answers that the overall amount of slash burning has decreased considerably even though the technologies have not changed much (EXHIBIT D).

151

Paul Washburn

Chairman Pacific Northwest Region, National Wildfire Suppression (NWSA).  Submits and presents a PowerPoint presentation on the NWSA (EXHIBIT F).

205

Washburn

Gives a history of the organization.

221

Washburn

Refers to graph showing growth of private sector groups, page four (EXHIBIT F).

260

Washburn

Talks about the accountability, or lack there of, as a result of the contracts.  Reviews the issue tracking documents pages 6-11 and expands on the issues.

287

Washburn

Describes the types of contracts with agencies in Oregon, both local and federal.

323

Washburn

Details the training programs used by the NWSA. 

345

Washburn

Identifies Safety issues mentioned in (EXHIBIT F).

389

Washburn

Discusses the development of a new class code specifically for fire fighting.  Indicates that a pilot program will be implemented through SAIF in March to try to lower workers compensation rates.

417

Washburn

Outlines the accomplishments of the NWSA as presented in (EXHIBIT F) page 12.

TAPE 3, A

022

Rep. Burley

Asks what the NWSA is doing to try to get more accountability with agreements.

032

Washburn

Responds that currently working toward best value contracting, expected to come out in 2006.  Adding that they are developing the criteria right now. 

045

Washburn

Refers to contracts between the Department of Corrections (DOC) and the US Department of Forestry to provide labor crews to do pre-suppression work (EXHIBIT G)

055

Chair Smith

Inquires if Mr. Washburn is opposed to using crews from the DOC.

056

Washburn

Responds that the NWSA is very opposed to using crews from the corrections system.  Explains that the NWSA has unemployed workers in regions, and yet the convicts are doing things that those workers can do.  They should not be working at our expense.

080

Chair Smith

Closes the informational meeting and adjourns the meeting at 11:00 AM.

 

 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

  1. Proposed Committee Rules, Staff, 2 pp.
  2. Fire Protection Program, PowerPoint presentation, Charlie Stone, 16 pp.
  3. Fire Protection Program, informational material, Charlie Stone, 3 pp.
  4. Fire Protection Program, PowerPoint presentation, Tim Keith, 3 pp.
  5. Fire Protection Program, informational material, Jeff Behan, 22 pp.
  6. Fire Protection Program, PowerPoint presentation, Paul Washburn, 35 pp.
  7. Fire Protection Program, informational material, Paul Washburn, 2 pp.