A crucial component of the Feb. 2020 Memorandum of Understanding brokered by Gov. Kate Brown, the Forest Aerial Spray Bill (SB 1602), has passed both houses of the Oregon State Legislature today! This is the culmination of many years of hard work by Beyond Toxics, great negotiating by Oregon Wild and Wild Salmon Center, along with massive grassroots pressure from a wide variety of allies and supporters across the state!
With the passage of SB 1602, rural communities across Oregon are now reassured that legislators are listening and responding to their concerns about aerial herbicide sprays on forest lands. Action taken during the 2020 Special Session is a significant stride toward protecting health and drinking water for rural Oregon families. We applaud today’s affirmative vote because it establishes a lasting policy of community pesticide right-to-know, as well as protective no-spray buffer zones for homes and schools as well as drinking water intakes. For the first time in Oregon’s history, SB 1602 sets no-spray buffer zones for small streams and tributaries. The new law protects people, fish, wildlife and water resources.
Key elements of SB 1602 include:
- Protect Oregon’s water with 50’ no-spray buffers on all tributaries and headwater streams;
- Expand no-spray buffer zones to 75’ on all fish and drinking water streams;
- Expand no-spray buffers on drinking water intakes to 300 feet;
- Makes no-spray buffer zones for homes and schools five times wider, from 60 to 300 feet;
- Provide timely notifications by giving 24-hr advanced notice to nearby residents who need to protect themselves and their property;
- Increase the accuracy of the timber spray notifications and allow access to the files by other state agencies for research purposes;
- Adopt a plan to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan to protect native fish and wildlife.
Sen. Michael Dembrow, a long-time advocate for forestry pesticide reform, re-affirmed that “upon passage of agreed-upon legislation (SB 1602), we will engage in a post-session mediated process to pursue changes to Oregon’s forest practices laws and regulations that are driven by science, have federal assurances, and that are therefore durable.”
PRESS RELEASE – June 26, 2020
SALEM, ORE – In an overwhelming bipartisan vote, both chambers of the Oregon Legislature today passed legislation (SB 1602) that will strengthen the state’s aerial pesticide spray regulations and set the stage for fundamental reform of the Oregon Forest Practices Act. The legislation comes four months after thirteen conservation and fishing organizations reached agreement with thirteen timber companies on a path forward to modernize the state’s long-outdated forestry laws.
“This is a big day for the state of Oregon,” said Sean Stevens, executive director of Oregon Wild. “This legislation is a down payment on bringing our forest laws into the 21st century and finally turning the myth into reality – that Oregon has strong laws that protect our forests and communities.”
“Today is another milestone on the road to cleaner water, safer communities and healthier salmon runs.” said Bob Van Dyk, Oregon and California policy director for Wild Salmon Center. “This validates the hard work by conservation and fishing groups to hammer out a deal with timber companies. And it shows broad, bi-partisan consensus that it’s time to modernize Oregon’s forestry practices.”
“With the passage of SB 1602, rural communities across Oregon are now reassured that legislators are listening and responding to their concerns about aerial pesticide spray on forest lands,” said Lisa Arkin, executive director of Beyond Toxics. “Today’s affirmative vote is a significant stride toward protecting health and drinking water for rural Oregon families because it establishes a lasting policy of community toxics ‘right-to-know’ as well as protective buffer zones for homes, schools and drinking water resources.”
Today’s bill passage is the product of decades of grassroots advocacy, public education, and dogged work by legislative champions to better protect forestlands, at risk wildlife, and adjacent communities. Conservation organizations would especially like to recognize the following legislators for their efforts:
- Senator Michael Dembrow and former-Representative Ann Lininger who first championed aerial pesticide spray reform legislation in 2015.
- Representative Paul Holvey, Representative Dan Rayfield, Representative Karin Power, Representative Andrea Salinas, and Representative Marty Wilde who have continuously introduced legislation over the years and delivered powerful testimony in support of updating forest laws and protecting communities.
- House and Senate leadership, including Speaker Tina Kotek, House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner, and Senate President Peter Courtney for prioritizing this legislation in the special session.
- Senator Minority Leader Fred Girod for carrying SB 1602 on the Senate floor today.
- Senator Jeff Golden for his supportive remarks on the Senate floor today and for his long time dedication to forest protection.
While this legislation represents a significant step forward for Oregon’s forests and the wildlife and people that rely on them, we know it is just a first step. Today marks the beginning of a new process that will require the commitment and engagement of all Oregonians who care about our forests to ensure that we can live up to our green reputation and have a truly sustainable forest sector.
See also BREAKING: Oregon Gov. Brown announces agreement between conservation groups and timber companies : “This morning, February 10, 2020, Governor Kate Brown announced a significant agreement between conservation groups and timber companies that will result in an update to the Oregon Forest Practices Act.”
Memorandum of Understanding signed by representatives of the timber industry and conservation groups (PDF)