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Other Laws affecting Forests

Describes how the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act affect all of Oregon's forestlands.

The U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 created requirements for managing threatened and endangered species on all lands. Oregon has its own ESA, passed in 1987. In forests where endangered or threatened species are present, whichever law (state or federal) is more restrictive and protective takes precedent. Private landowners and state or local governments who wish to conduct activities on their land that might incidentally harm (or “take”) federally-listed endangered species must obtain an “incidental take permit” from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and design a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to offset harmful effects to the species.

On federal public land, the USFWS designates “critical habitat”, or habitat that is essential to a species’ survival and recovery.  The ESA prohibits “take”, which includes killing, harming, or harassing listed species, but the USFWS readily approves incidental take permits, allowing documented owl habitat areas on matrix land to be destroyed. The ESA also requires that federal agencies “consult” with USFWS or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration when proposing projects that may adversely impact listed species.

Like the ESA, the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972 applies to all land in Oregon.  This law is designed to protect surface water quality nationwide.  Through regulating direct pollutant discharges, wastewater treatment, and contaminated runoff, it aims to restore and maintain high water quality for both wildlife and human uses.  Logging operations on all land in Oregon must comply with the standards set by the CWA to protect waterways.

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Which state has protected the largest percentage of its land as Wilderness?

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