Department of Forestry Records Guide

Agency History - 1961-Present

The Western Oregon Small Tract Optional Tax Law of 1961 gave tax breaks to owners of under-productive forestlands. In 1964, the Rural Fire Defense Program linked the Department of Forestry and the State Fire Marshal's Office to encourage rural fire fighting programs. A year later, the Legislative Assembly consolidated the many laws administering the Department of Forestry and made many of its programs more efficient (Oregon Laws, Chapter 253).

The Legislative Assembly saw fit in 1963 to incorporate the functions of the State Land Board, in matters related to forest resources, into the Department of Forestry. One year later the State Forest Nursery at Corvallis was closed after 39 years. The facility was converted into a laboratory to study forest genetics.

In 1971, the Legislative Assembly passed resolutions forming a Western States Forestry Task Force to operate as a clearinghouse for information concerning western forests. The Task Force was also to serve as an informational body to the legislatures and administrations of the respective states. Also passed was the Oregon Forest Conservation Practices Act (FPA) that administered road construction, logging practices, slash disposal, and chemical use on state lands. This first in the nation program was administrated by a Forest Practices Commission, which managed operations in the three forest regions designated by the act (Northwest, Southern, and Eastern).

With industry support, Oregon legislature approved the nation's first Forest Practices Act. New law set minimum standards for reforestation, road construction and maintenance, timber harvesting, chemical application and slash disposal. Legislation governed private and state lands; federal officials subsequently agreed to meet or exceed terms of the Oregon Act. Emphasis is on prevention of problems and abuses. Law became a model for other states adopting similar legislation. Law became effective July 1, 1972. Initial adoption of Forest Practices Rules. Rules set specific standards for reforestation, road construction and maintenance, and streamside buffer strips. Though many rules were advisory in nature, the majority were specific and enforceable. More than 6,800 people from industry, the Department of Forestry, and cooperating state and federal agencies completed Forest Practices Act training program.

The Woodlands Management Act was passed in 1979 to encourage long-term forestry investments and promote better management of Oregon forestlands. The act provided tax relief to forestland owners, promoted the harvesting of mature timber crops, encouraged reforestation of clear-cut lands, and promoted continuous production of forest products. The act also created the State Forest Seed Tree Bank, which provided for the supply and maintenance of forest tree seed for sale to public, state, and private owners of forest nurseries and forestlands.

The Department of Forestry Soil Task Force was formed in 1983 to reduce the risk of landslides and their impact upon streams and soil in steeped-sloped areas. In 1984, "A Forestry Program for Oregon" was enacted (and updated in 1986) to implement a mandate by the Legislative Assembly to ensure an adequate supply of timber and positively impact the economy, populous, and the environment. In response to the Forestry Program, a Smoke Management Advisory Committee was created (1989) to control the effects of controlled burns and accidental forest fires.

A number of measures were enacted by the Legislative Assembly in 1991, designed to better manage the state's forests. Restrictions were increased on clear-cutting and other harmful practices. Timber operators were required to submit a written plan to the Department of Forestry. Scenic corridors along highways were defined and protected by drastically reducing logging activity in these areas. The use of pesticides and other chemicals was increasingly regulated by requiring the notification of the Department of Forestry and all residents within a 10-mile radius of any chemical application. The department was also required to make greater efforts to cooperate with other state agencies to ensure better monitoring and enforcement of these additional guidelines.

The 1991 Legislative Assembly also reallocated State Lottery funds to aid forest products workers who may have lost their jobs due to decreased demand for timber and increased environmental restrictions upon logging practices. Special loan funds were established by the Economic Development Department to serve the needs of these displaced workers. Additional legislation created the Oregon Forest Products Resources Institute to enhance and support the forest products industry in Oregon. The Institute was funded by tax revenues imposed on forest product harvests and administered by a board made up of wood products industry members.

Restrictions on forest operations and clear-cutting were implemented through Special Legislative Sessions in 1995 and 1996. Reforestation practices were also addressed in this attempt to encourage stewardship in the department's forestry operations as opposed to regulatory enforcement.

A 1997 amendment to the FPA gave the department authority to enter into stewardship agreements with landowners. The objectives of the agreements were to provide forest landowners with the opportunity to plan and implement forest management strategies with reduced oversight and regulation. The amendment was also intended to give landowners an incentive to enhance and restore fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, and other natural resources.

The Oregon Forestland-Urban Interface Fire Protection Act was enacted in 1997 to coordinate fire protection for areas of conflicting development and forestland. The act requires property owners to assume responsibility to prevent fire and minimize the consequences of a substantial burn. It authorized the Department of Forestry to develop classifications for areas of urban/forest interface and to create standards for land/property owners regarding liability and prevention responsibilities.

Delta On to current organization

State Archives • 800 Summer St. NE • Salem, OR 97310

Phone: 503-373-0701 • Fax: 503-378-4118 • reference.archives@state.or.us