The 2023 Oregon legislative session officially adjourned Sunday, June 25
Since January, COLT and our team of lobbyists have been working hard to push an ambitious legislative agenda focused on policies and programs that protect working farm, ranch, and forest lands and increase funding for land acquisition.
After an unpredictable and bumpy session, we are coming away with many wins for the environment, including funding for source water protection, natural climate solutions, Forest Legacy, and Tribally-led natural area restoration.
But the biggest disappointment of this session was learning that the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program (OAHP) would not be funded this year —despite broad and bipartisan support.
We are sad and surprised at this outcome, but we are not done fighting for OAHP. We will be back again in the new year advocating for full grant funding for 2024 to protect working agriculture and ranch lands across the state.
Thank you to our amazing conservation community, and everyone that reached out to legislators and wrote testimony supporting this important program.
Updates on Our Budget Priorities
While the fight for OAHP continues, there’s still a lot to celebrate this session. Here’s where we landed with other priorities!
Protecting Source Water
Working with legislative champions Representatives Helm (D-27) and Owens (R- 60) and Sustainable Northwest, we secured $5 million to establish a new program at OWEB that will provide grants to water suppliers to protect, restore, and enhance sources of drinking water! This new program will leverage significant federal funding for Oregon by acting as a state match source for federal programs such as Forest Legacy, Community Forest and Open Space, and the Drinking Water Provider Partnership. Learn more about COLT’s source water protection work.
Forest Legacy Capacity
We supported the Department of Forestry’s (ODF) budget request to increase their Forest Legacy Program Coordinator position from 0.75 FTE to 1.0 FTE. While not included in the final agency budget, COLT learned through conversations with ODF that the agency is currently applying for federal funds to boost capacity for the Forest Legacy program in Oregon!
Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund (OCRF)
Policy Option Package (POP) 112 in the final ODFW budget creates a permanent Coordinator position for the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund! The budget also deposits $1 million in general funds and $1 million specifically for drought related projects into OCRF.
Supporting Natural Climate Solutions
COLT supported this session’s version of the Natural Climate Solutions bill (SB 530), which passed as part of the Climate Budget Framework. This $90 million framework provides investments in resilient and efficient buildings, community climate resilience, the Community Renewable Energy Grant program, rebates for solar energy, and provides $31.2 million for wildfire resilience funding.
The framework also creates the Natural and Working Lands Fund and provides $10 million to support grant programs for incentives and technical support for natural climate solutions on natural and working lands!
The Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) final budget includes $1.5 million general funds to establish a permanent, full-time Natural Resource Specialist position that is dedicated to resolving water rights issues with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR).
SB 762 Fire Resilience
The final budget for the Department of Forestry (ODF) includes funding to continue SB 762 Fire resilience programs, providing $10 million for the Landscape Resiliency Program and $2.5 million for the Small Forestland Grant Program!
Legislative Bill Tracker