New videos and website highlight changes to forest laws and regulations
09.07.2022

Since March, OFRI has been focusing our educational efforts on explaining the coming changes in forest laws, regulations and practices that stem from the Private Forest Accord (PFA), an agreement between timber companies and environmental groups to make changes to the Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA).

We’ve already created materials for small forest landowners, an audience we know is paying attention. But we’re also focusing on the general public. This audience may have noticed some headlines back when the PFA negotiations were publically announced two years ago, or when new legislation proposed by the PFA was signed into law earlier this year – but overall the public appears to be largely uninformed about the changes, and how they’ll shape the future of forestry in Oregon.

Educational videos

Our first big effort is a set of new educational videos going out to the general public. In July, OFRI assembled a team to create these videos, which highlight how a variety of Oregonians who care about the forests have found common ground to expand streamside habitat protections for fish and aquatic wildlife. A camera crew filmed both recreational actors and real forestry professionals, playing in the forest as well as working in and along streams in Oregon’s Coast Range. Watch the 30-second video here.             

Forester standing next to tree with flag on it

To film the video, several forestry professionals who work for timber companies in Oregon joined us in the forest. Jenniffer Bakke, a wildlife biologist from Manulife, joined us in the stream to gather water samples and catch a few invertebrates. David Dougherty, a forester from GreenWood Resources, guided us through the underbrush to flag some trees in the protected streamside habitat zone. And Rachel Kennard, a forest engineering specialist from Weyerhaeuser, climbed through a culvert with our camera crew to gather some measurements.

All three lent great expertise to the project, and all represent businesses that signed the PFA agreement and participated in the negotiations that led to the recent OFPA changes.

Forest engineer standing in a culvert

In August we released the new video through a digital public outreach campaign. Unlike most years, OFRI is splitting our educational media campaign between two seasons. We plan to run our introductory video this fall, followed by a larger campaign next spring, which will add new videos to the lineup. All the videos in the campaign encourage viewers to visit OregonForestLaws.org.

Screen capture of OregonForestLaws.org website

Educational website

With these changes coming to Oregon forest laws and regulations, OFRI also thought it was the right time to completely rebuild OregonForestLaws.org. The website is geared toward the general public. It offers an overview of the Oregon laws that regulate forestry practices such as logging, road-building, and using chemicals in the forest to control unwanted vegetation. Each site section summarizes current laws and regulations, to help Oregonians gain a base-level knowledge of the measures that protect clean water, fish and wildlife habitat, and more elements on Oregon’s timber-producing forests. There are specific callouts that highlight the changes in forest laws and regulations that came from the PFA’s work.

Users can dig deeper if they want, including  reading the full PFA report, OFRI’s Oregon’s Forest Protection Laws – An Illustrated Manual, or even lists of endangered or threatened species protected under federal and state law. The site also lets visitors ask a forester questions about Oregon forest laws and regulations. We collect the questions and ask our staff foresters or partnering foresters to craft answers that will clearly explain current laws and regulations. We really hope this feature gets used; feedback like this helps us gauge what the public is wondering about, and what level of understanding they have about contemporary forest practices.

We welcome you to share the new video and website with your colleagues and community. We know public awareness about the PFA in particular is quite low. But it was a monumental shift in Oregon’s forest practices, and OFRI is doing what we can to give these changes the attention they deserve.

Jordan Benner

Senior Manager, Public Outreach

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