2022 Legislative Session Recap

by Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director

The 2022 Legislative Short Session is now in the rearview mirror. Although it lasted only 35 days, it resulted in some remarkable gains for conservation in Oregon. Bird Alliance of Oregon’s top two legislative priorities—advancing new stream protections under the Oregon Forest Practices Act and creating a new Elliott State Research Forest—passed with strong support from both conservation and timber interests and with strong bipartisan support. This seemed unfathomable only a few years ago and is testament to the intense and unprecedented negotiations that have occurred since then.

Northern Spotted Owlets on branches
Northern Spotted Owlets, photo by Scott Carpenter.

Passed: Senate Bill 1501

Creates strong new stream protections under the Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA), which regulates more than 10 million acres of private forestland in Oregon. Bird Alliance of Oregon has fought for decades to strengthen the OFPA. We are proud to have been part of the six-person environmental negotiating team that worked with six timber-industry representatives, in a process facilitated by the Governor’s office, to develop the OFPA agreements. The other environmental groups directly involved in these negotiations were Wild Salmon Center, Oregon Wild, KS Wild, and Trout Unlimited. This legislation will provide much stronger protections on both fish-bearing and non-fish-bearing streams to benefit federally listed species such as salmon, steelhead, and bull trout as well as other species such as stream-dwelling amphibians. SB 1501 passed with a 22-5 vote in the Senate and 43-15 in the House.

Passed: Senate Bill 1546

Creates the Elliott State Research Forest with strong protections for the Elliott’s old-growth forests, imperiled species, and water quality. The 82,000-acre Elliott Coast Forest is one of the crown jewels of the Oregon Coast Range stronghold for federally listed Marbled Murrelets, Northern Spotted Owls, and coho. It has also for decades been one of Oregon’s most conflicted landscapes. Bird Alliance of Oregon along with Cascadia Wild and Center for Biological Diversity have brought three lawsuits to prevent illegal clearcutting and liquidation of the Elliott.

Elliott State Forest, photo courtesy of Cascadia Wildlands

Bird Alliance of Oregon and a coalition of conservation groups successfully fought an effort by the State to sell the Elliott to private timber interests circa 2016-17. For the past three years we have been part of a stakeholder advisory group that included conservation groups, tribes, timber interests, recreational interests, rural counties, the Oregon School Board, the State of Oregon, and OSU that have been working intensively to develop a collaborative path forward for the Elliott. The Elliott State Research Forest locks in strong protections for the Elliott’s older forests, streams, and imperiled species. It creates the largest reserve in the Oregon Coast Range at 34,000+ acres, plus smaller reserves throughout the rest of the forest. The legislation advances with unanimous support from the stakeholder advisory committee (something that seemed virtually impossible three years ago), strong support from more than 25 conservation groups, and bipartisan support in the legislature on a 22-4 vote in the Senate and 50-9 vote in the House. The legislature also allocated $121 million to fully decouple the Elliott from the Common School Fund.

Passed: House Bill 4130

Allocates $5 million for wildlife crossings in Oregon.

Passed: House Bill 4128

Helps prevent and respond to zoonotic disease outbreaks linked to the import, trade, and handling of wildlife by strengthening state agency coordination, monitoring, and response plans.


Two bills that would harm wildlife failed to advance: House Bill 4127 would have allocated $1 million for an unaccountable Wolf Compensation Fund and could have been used for payments for “missing” livestock that are not verifiable (as opposed to direct depredation loss). House Bill 4080 would have authorized formation of Predator Damage Control Districts to raise money to subsidize federal lethal wildlife control programs.

It was a remarkable short session, but we are already looking forward to the 2023 Long Session. Bird Alliance of Oregon priorities will include advancing funding for urban wildlife biologists at Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, funding to support marine reserves and rocky shorelines, reducing the risk of lead shot to wildlife, and protecting Oregon’s dark skies.