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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter


The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1

Spring has Sprung       

The grass has riz, you know where the dispensary is      

April 28, 2014

In This Issue
Lake County's Shoun
Forest Trust Land Counties
National Forest Symposium
Energy Trust of Oregon
Product Stewardship
AOC Spring Conference
Political Activity
The Road Ahead
NACo Annual Conference
NACo Drug Discount Program
Places to Go, Things to Do, Great Opportunities
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Salem - It's spring in Oregon which means politics. At Oregon Trails we like to maintain our political neutrality but we can say with a straight face, we thoroughly enjoy being interested observers. The Oregon Primary Election is less than a month away and campaigns for elected office at the various levels of government and several local measures are really taking off.  


Thank goodness for the internet because we can get unbiased, factual information as opposed to the old days of rumor, innuendo and gossip. (Editor's note: Our writer has seen better days in his career.)  


Is there an issue on your May ballot of county concern? Please let the Oregon Trails staff know if there is a ballot measure or other burning issue being decided in your county next month. We like to keep tabs on the latest and greatest issues in Oregon counties.  


Despite the politics or perhaps because of them, there is activity to report and it can be found in this edition of Oregon Trails. Please pay close attention to information about AOC's upcoming Spring Conference. Hint: It will be in Hood River County. It will involve good food and substantive content. And it will start June 8th.  


Also, NACo is holding its annual conference in New Orleans in July (that's great planning, huh?) And WIR will be in Alaska next month. Jackson County Commissioner Doug Breidenthal is seeking election as WIR 2nd Vice President. He could use your support. If you know anyone from another state that will be attending WIR, please ask them to vote for Doug!


Don't hesitate to call or contact AOC with your questions, suggestions, concerns, complaints and compliments.  We accept credit cards too.  


 Wildland Fire Strategy  

Lake County Commissioner Dan Shoun represents the nation's counties as the final National Wildland Fire Strategy is released. He is featured in a report in NACo's Washington Watch. Thank you for your hard work on this important issue Commissioner Shoun.  


While we're in the woods....

Forest Trust Land Counties hold historic meeting

A large turnout of commissioners of all Forest Trust Land Counties took place on Friday, April 4, at the Board of Forestry (BOF) meeting room in Salem. The purpose was to consider and influence the revision of the state forests management plans to meet the twin goals of the Governor, namely, 1)more revenue, and 2)increased conservation values. This was prompted by his realization that the Oregon Department of Forestry's (ODF) Forest Development Fund (FDF), where its share of timber receipts are deposited to provide revenues for state forest management, is shrinking and unsustainable without increased timber revenues. The Governor made reference to a "zoned approach" to management rather than the current structure-based management.


The meeting was officially called by the Forest Trust Land Advisory Committee (FTLAC). FTLAC, the statutory advisor to the BOF, State Forester, and ODF, will be consulted closely given the legal stake counties have in the lands. FTLAC is by statute the Council of Forest Trust Land Counties (CFTLC) Board of Directors, Chair, and Vice Chair. Due to the pivotal importance of this effort, FTLAC decided at its February 13th meeting that any change to ORS Chapter 530 (FTL laws) must have unanimous support of all 15 FTL counties, so the meeting was expanded to commissioners of those counties.


The meeting was long, but produced fine results. Twenty-two commissioners representing all 15 counties attended, along with the Governor's Office (Brett Brownscombe, Natural Resources Advisor), Senator Betsy Johnson, BOF Chair Tom Imeson, State Forester Doug Decker, ODF State Forest Division Chief Liz Dent, and several ODF staff and stakeholders.


A new forest management plan will be the responsibility of the BOF, promulgated by administrative rule. (Although there was some conversation about the potential need to change the revenue distribution formula as a result of a new plan, this element would need a statutory change and agreement of all 15 counties. The commissioners agreed to address this question later).


The commissioners agreed on nine points to deliver to the BOF:


  1. Any change to ORS Chapter 530 will need a majority vote from commissioners of each of the 15 counties. Each county will engage their own local taxing districts, with the intent to protect and provide sustainable and durable revenue streams for schools and special districts.
  2. The vast majority of the revenue gap must be filled by timber revenue rather than alternative sources.
  3. Family-wage jobs need to be maintained or created.
  4. The state forests should be self-sufficient, so the ODF funding gap of $5.7 million and the counties' gap of $10 million should not be met with state general funds.
  5. There might be other public values that could be supported by state general funds, but only on a short-term, time-limited basis.
  6. Alternative revenue sources should be considered, but recognized as potentially de minimis.
  7. A successful plan is defensible and provides durable funding.
  8. Use methods to minimize risks to the assets by fire protection; age-class distribution and associated risk of threatened and endangered species; exploration of "take avoidance" or Habitat Conservation Plan strategies; and active management.
  9. Counties need greater specificity of the dual goal of "enhanced conservation" to effectively evaluate both current conservation measures and future needs of increased timber revenues.

 The BOF is scheduled to make a decision on a forest management plan this fall.


AOC Policy Director Gil Riddell handles Public Lands and Natural Resource issues.  



Forest Symposium

The National Forest Counties and Schools Coalition and the Partnership for Rural America recently sponsored a National Forest Symposium in Portland at the World Forestry Center. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR served up the keynote address by telling delegates from eight states the federal government has got to get back into the business of active forest management. The newly minted chair of the Senate Finance Committee has an ambitious legislative agenda that includes getting his East and West side forest bills passed, addressing the soaring costs of wildfire fighting at the expense of active management and a bill that would pull together all programs of extraction from federal lands to provide permanent funding for SRS, PILT and other programs. The Senator asked the Coalition and Partnership to work closely with him on these legislative goals.


Representatives from counties and schools in Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Arkansas and Texas participated in the symposium, led by Paul Pearce, Executive Director of the National Forest Counties & Schools Coalition and Marc Kelley, Campaign Manager for the Partnership for Rural America. The Coalition and the Partnership plan to work closely with Senator Wyden but would like to get clarification of his natural resource extraction proposal.  


The politics in Washington, D.C. right now are generating a bizarre situation where even good, common sense legislation is being held hostage because of election year concerns. Pearce and Kelley said there is little probability of any substantive movement on many bills simply because one party refuses to help the other and vice versa in order to keep any political advantage at bay. The participants in the symposium, realizing that this is the case, were nonetheless expressive in their dismay.  


Of note, the checks from Uncle Sam for SRS are the last ones unless Congress acts before October 1st for yet another reauthorization. Should one make its way through this dysfunctional Congress and receive a Presidential signature, and that could happen, it would nevertheless be at a level at or below the funding in the last check. Probably below. PILT is also facing an up-hill battle for appropriation at full levels. It is going to take a great deal of effort and time to get Congress to work on these issues. The symposium closed with a plea, that it is very important for counties to stay involved with their Congressional delegations and spend as much time as possible communicating positive as well as negative information.   


Forest Symposium
Gilliam County Judge Steve Shaffer, Wheeler County Judge Chris Perry and Josephine County Commissioner Simon Hare attend National Forest Symposium 

Energy Trust of Oregon Success Stories

Energy Trust of Oregon can help with cash incentives, technical assistance, finding a contractor, installation of energy-efficiency improvements and renewable energy solutions.


Energy-efficiency and renewable energy improvements are right in line with the purpose of public organizations-to serve. Reducing energy costs frees funds for important public priorities, and demonstrates good stewardship of taxpayer or contributor dollars. 


Energy-efficiency projects can decrease operating expenses. They can also create more comfortable conditions for employees and visitors while conserving resources and reducing environmental impacts.


For a recent success story, check out this page about Clackamas County's Dark Building case study.


Product Stewardship Improvement Workgroup

For county commissioners interested in solid waste issues, please consider joining the Product Stewardship Improvement Workgroup (PSIW). This group is charged with developing local positions on future product stewardship programs. In 2013 the PaintCare program was enacted and many counties felt as if the local voice was not adequately heard. The PSIW group will gather city, county and Metro representatives to discuss potential future product stewardship programs for batteries, carpet, mattresses and other items with speakers from DEQ, industry and solid waste experts.


The first meeting will be held in Salem in late May or early June. Please contact Mark Nystrom at AOC if you would like to be a part of this workgroup. More information and the first meeting's agenda will be available soon. 


Counties As Conveners

Inspiring leaders, building good policy


June 8 - 10, Hood River County


The AOC Spring Conference is just around corner and it's packed full of useful stuff. Many people bemoan the lack of elected officials who possess true leadership skills and the ability to get things done. AOC President Earl Fisher wants to change that. The Association of Oregon Counties has found success in the role of convener, but will this approach work for you in your county? Join us in Hood River June 8 - 10 for a full program.   

 Register Here


If you have any questions, please call the AOC office at 503-585-8351.  


Restrictions on Political Campaigning by Public Employees

With election season upon us it seems a good time to review the do's and don'ts of the use of county staff and county resources on election matters (both people and initiatives). In short, county staff/resources cannot have anything to do with any candidate race, initiative petition, or legislative referral. Restrictions on public employee activities begin:

  1. For initiative, referendum and recall petition efforts, as soon as a prospective petition is filed with the appropriate elections filing officer;
  2. For a ballot measure referred to the ballot by a governing body (district, city, county, state) as soon as the measure is certified to the ballot. A county, city or district measure is certified to the ballot when the elections official files the referral with the county election office;
  3. For a candidate, as soon as the person becomes a candidate under the definition in ORS 260.005(1)(a); and
  4. For political committees, whenever the political committee is active.

It is, theoretically possible for your county to take a position on a ballot measure, but you must take extraordinary precautions to make sure that elected officials are the only people participating in that process. Even the act of processing the agenda item by staff, using county resources, could violate this provision. 


If you have questions you may find the answer in this publication from the Secretary of State's office, Restrictions on Political Campaigning by Public Employees, or consult your county counsel.


The Road Ahead

NACo has produced a research document that is an analysis of county transportation (roads and bridges) funding sources, challenges and solutions across the lower 48 states. Three states are highlighted in the report and Oregon is one of the three states (see page 13). It is must reading for county officials about a very important topic.  


NACo Annual Conference
Registration is now open for the 2014 NACo Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA. Complete details can be found at the NACo website.  

NACo Drug Discount Program 

Does your county participate in the NACo Prescription Discount Card Program? If so, NACo, Caremark, and AOC can take specific action to get discount cards into the hands of residents. Tailored assistance is provided at the direction of the participating county and can include direct mailings, bill inserts, brochure stands, press releases, announcements, planning, and much more. This assistance program is easy to start, and requires very little support from the participating county. 


Expanding your marketing helps more people to discover and access this excellent, cost saving program. To start your marketing initiative, or to learn more, please contact AOC at (503) 585-8351.   


NACo Discount Drug Program



Places To Go, Things To Do, Great Opportunities

NACo has launched a significant upgrade to the NACo Grants Clearinghouse which offers almost ten times as many grant opportunities for counties. For information on the upgrade and what it can mean for your county, please see this NACo release


The Oregon Transportation and Growth Management Program (TGM) is a partnership between ODOT and the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD). They want county governments to be aware that TGM planning grants will soon be available. For more information please see this release.   


See you in Hood River!

Laura Cleland & Eric Schmidt

Association of Oregon Counties




Have a great week.