Governor Kitzhaber's New Proposal for Management of O&C Lands Falls Short of Adequately Protecting Oregon’s Natural Heritage, Says Defenders of Wildlife

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Washington, D.C. (February 7, 2013) — Oregon Governor Kitzhaber today released a letter outlining his proposed approach to the management of O&C lands following a 4-month dialogue among the conservation, timber industry and county representatives named to his O&C Lands Panel. Below is a statement from Defenders of Wildlife President Jamie Rappaport Clark.

“I want to thank Governor Kitzhaber for convening a diverse array of interested parties, including Defenders of Wildlife, to address the complex issue of how to manage the O&C lands. These lands are a vital part of Oregon’s natural heritage and the Governor is to be commended for taking their management so seriously. Unfortunately, we are unable to support the Governor’s proposed approach because it falls short when it comes to protecting the wildlife that live on these lands, particularly those facing extinction.

“The Governor’s approach does not make clear that timber harvests in habitat critical to endangered species would have to follow the rules protecting that habitat under the Endangered Species Act. It also does not adequately ensure that key conservation laws like the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Protection Act and the Clean Water Act will not be overridden or dodged to allow increased logging on federal O&C lands.

“We are also concerned that the Governor’s proposal to designate a dominant timber harvest use mandate on a portion of the lands fails to provide adequate environmental safeguards to protect our clean water, avoid erosion, and sustain fish and wildlife populations. Similarly, the Governor’s proposal sets a dangerous precedent in calling for the transfer or sale of public lands solely in response to local economic needs.

“Any one of these provisions could pose a significant risk to the wildlife in Oregon that are most in need of protection, but taken together they threaten Oregon’s natural heritage for future generations. Nonetheless, we remain hopeful that we can continue to work with the Governor and Congress on a way to manage Oregon’s lands into the future that meets the needs of all interested parties while also conserving Oregon’s great natural heritage.”

Contact: Bob Davison 541-745-5395

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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.

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