SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Senate has passed legislation that solidifies a landmark agreement between timber companies and environmental groups brokered in February.
Senate Bill 1602 is supposed to establish greater clean water protections in Oregon's forest communities, focusing on "science-based" forest management practices in the state.
If passed in the House and signed into law, the bill would ban the use of aerial pesticides near homes and schools. It would also create buffers between logging sites and the waterways inhabited by salmon, steelhead, and bull trout.
“This legislation is a welcome commitment to pursue science-based rules for managing the forests that Oregonians value and love,” said Senator Jeff Golden, D-Ashland, the new Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. “It’s also a genuinely historic step towards resolving a conflict that’s divided us for far too long.”
According to Senate Democrats, the bill formalizes the February agreement between loggers and environmentalists to continue "productive discussions" and keep modernizing Oregon's forest practices. It charges the Governor with facilitating those mediation sessions.
“The status quo of aerial pesticide spraying practices has been extremely harmful,” said Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego. “Our vote today will help ensure that forest industry practices are not hurting the health of workers, families and even school children. The process the timber industry and environmental groups will undergo will also ensure transparency, which is critical, as these practices have such a great impact on everyday lives and our environment.”
The bill now goes on to the House of Representatives for consideration.