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    November 2007  

News from the Policy Research Program:

News from the Information Program:


News from the Policy Research Program:

INR leads a November 2007 conference on forests and quality of life in Oregon

With support from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, Stoel Rives LLP, Sperry Ridge Inc., and the Pacific Forest Trust, the Institute for Natural Resources will lead a two-day conference, November 6-7, in Corvallis, Oregon that focuses on sustaining the health of Oregon’s forests in the midst of regional, national, and global change. At the Crossroads: Sustaining Oregon’s Forests in a Rapidly Changing World will bring both new and traditional constituents into discussions of how to ensure that the state’s forests can continue to provide the benefits that Oregonians expect and value.

Gail Kimbell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, will headline a host of expert speakers from government, science, industry, landowners, tribes, and environmental organizations. Other leading presenters include John C. Gordon, Pinchot Professor Emeritus of the Yale School of Forestry and member of the National Commission on Science for Sustainable Forestry; Marvin Brown, Oregon State Forester; Gary Hartshorn, President and CEO of the World Forestry Center; Richard Devlin, Oregon Senate Majority Leader; Laurie Wayburn, President of the Pacific Forest Trust; Steve Hobbs, Oregon Board of Forestry; and Mike Houck, Executive Director of the Urban Greenspaces Institute, and many others.

The goal of the conference is to engage a broad spectrum of political, social and economic stakeholders and decision-makers in Oregon’s forests. The hope is not only to promote greater awareness of the multiple benefits that Oregon’s forests produce, but also to be a venue to seek and seed common ground for maintaining forest benefits in the face of unprecedented threats.

Visit the conference Web site at or contact [email protected]. Hope to see you at the conference!

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A Note from the Director:

Welcome to the Institute for Natural Resources (INR) first electronic newsletter!

INR was created by the legislature in 2001 to provide integrated scientifically-based natural resources information to the public and to assist decision making on natural resource issues. Our Web site at provides complete information about our activities – from helping state agencies address challenging problems like salmon habitat on forest lands and mixing zones for wastewater discharges to developing new web-based integrated natural resource information systems with the OSU Libraries. We plan to publish our newsletter quarterly to bring you news about what we’re doing and to engage more of you in our work.

After four years as INR’s director, I am more excited than ever about what we are doing at INR and how it can help all Oregonians. The 2007 Legislature provided core funding support for the full 2007-2009 biennium, affirming their belief in the work we do. INR was also instrumental in several other major initiatives by the 2007 Legislature, particularly the Oregon Innovation Plan, funding of the Oregon Wave Energy Trust and the Bio-economy Sustainable Technology Signature Research Center, and creation of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute.

This issue of our newsletter introduces you to our information program with stories about the Oregon Explorer, a natural resources digital library, and our on-the-ground work inventorying Oregon’s rarest ecosystems. Our policy research program responds to policy maker’s immediate needs through projects – like our upcoming At the Crossroads conference and recently awarded Oregon Department of Forestry grant – and long-term needs for new tools, as shown in our work on environmental evaluation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s 5-Star Program.

We look forward to your ideas on how we can improve our newsletter and provide you with the information and tools you need to address natural resource problems.

- Gail Achterman, [email protected]


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INR launches a Science-Policy Seminar Series to stimulate dialogue between university faculty and state agency leaders

On September 19, 2007 INR launched its first annual Science-Policy Seminar Series.  The purpose of these quarterly events is to start a dialogue between university faculty and state agency leaders about the natural resource and environmental challenges facing the state.  There are two expected outcomes: (1) the state agency leader learns about new information and tools to use in their work; and (2) participating faculty will be inspired to help the agency solve its problems.

Lane Shetterly, Director of the Department of Land Conservation and Development until his recent resignation, was the first featured guest.  Faculty from Oregon State University, University of Oregon and Portland State University joined with members of the Land Conservation and Development Commission and local business leaders for a lively discussion with issues ranging from the importance of integrating land use planning and water supply planning to the future of the “Big Look Task Force” to the need to monitor land use change over time across jurisdictions.

INR will soon prepare and post a white paper summarizing the discussion at the seminar and describing research needs.  Contact [email protected] if you would like to receive a copy of this paper when it is finished.

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INR receives an Oregon Department of Forestry grant to develop revised policy approaches

The Policy Research Program has recently received a competitive grant from the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) to develop revised policy approaches that take into account rapidly changing information about how ecosystem dynamics affect our forest resources. For example, most of our responses to the Clean Water Act require us to move towards a static “healthy watershed” condition across all watersheds. We now know that that has rarely been the uniform historical condition: how do meet the requirements of such policies and still allow for such dynamic cycles as flooding, landslides, or volcanic eruptions? INR has convened a top-level OUS team incorporating ecology, silviculture, aquatic biology, law, and social science to collaborate with ODF in analysis of specific cases, a seminar series, and development of a revised policy framework. The result will be closer alignment between policy and ecosystem dynamics. For more information, contact [email protected].

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INR evaluates NFWF's Five Star Restoration Program

The Policy Research Program is currently working on the final inquiries and report to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to evaluate their EPA-funded Five Star Restoration program. Five Star provides seed money at multiple sites around the country for such activities as wetlands and riparian restoration, and invasive species removal. Community partnerships and outreach are required. INR is assessing the program nationwide to discover strengths and weaknesses that will help NFWF improve the program and better target their investments both strategically and tactically. For more information, contact [email protected].

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INR hosts a faculty discussion group on infectious disease

On October 18, INR hosted a faculty discussion group on infectious disease issues. This is the first in a series of cross- and inter-campus discussions between people in the Oregon University System who are working on different aspects of unifying challenges. INR’s motivation is to encourage multidisciplinary conversations that broaden all perspectives and could lead to strategic collaborations for funding and teaching in the future. The Infectious Disease discussion was led by Jeff Shaman of COAS at OSU, and had faculty participation from sociology, microbiology, anthropology, water resources, pharmacy, political science, atmospheric science, public health, veterinary medicine, and fisheries and wildlife. INR is considering a follow-up seminar series on the processes driving infectious disease spread on local to global scales, to bring this ongoing chronic challenge more clearly into public consideration. For more information, contact [email protected].

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News from the Information Program:

Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center embarks on a major wetlands information project in partnership with the Wetlands Conservancy

Over the last two years, the Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center (ORNHIC) has been working with the Department of Administrative Services Geospatial Enterprise Office (DAS – GEO), the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) and the Department of State Lands (DSL), to help create a statewide wetlands spatial dataset.  This statewide data is critical for being able to evaluate what is happening to Oregon’s wetlands, as well as to help developers and local governments avoid wetlands before they have invested funds in developing a property.  As part of this initial work, a standard for wetlands data was developed and adopted for Oregon, and more than 2/3 of the wetlands data from the National Wetlands Inventory has been digitized and included online.

The new project involves funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve wetlands conservation in Oregon by creating a partnership with The Wetlands Conservancy (TWC), an Oregon non-profit dedicated to promoting community and private partnerships to permanently protect and conserve Oregon's greatest wetlands.  The partnership includes the creation of a Wetlands Explorer portal, part of the Oregon Explorer Natural Resources Digital Library.  The EPA funding is will primarily help to create the information necessary to understand where priority wetlands are in Oregon, and how they can be best conserved.  TWC and ORNHIC are also working diligently to obtain the funds necessary to:

  • create online tools to improve wetlands mitigation;
  • allow developers to pre-screen projects before they invest in them to find out if any wetlands or endangered species are present;
  • integrate information on historic wetlands in Oregon to help with restoration efforts;
  • develop data on natural wetland plant communities;
  • publish lessons learned from past wetlands restoration activities in Oregon; and
  • distribute stories of the exception wetlands conservation work done by landowners throughout Oregon.

For more information, contact [email protected].

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Oregon Imagery Explorer makes Aerial Imagery Available

Oregonians now have access to high-quality and high resolution color aerial imagery via a state-of-the-art orthoimagery portal developed in collaboration with INR, Oregon State University Libraries, Oregon Department of Administrative Services’ Geospatial Enterprise Office and ER Mapper’s Enterprise Services Division.  The portal serves the 2005 half-meter orthoimagery that the State has obtained in cooperation with the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP), along with other aerial and satellite imagery datasets.  The portal is capable of delivering a staggering 46,000 WMS map requests per hour.

Oregon agencies receive many requests from organizations throughout the state for geospatial data, particularly orthoimagery and aerial photography. User needs typically go beyond simple viewing to include such features as clipping data for an area of interest, compressing these data, and shipping them to the user, as well as seamlessly integrating with other geospatial Internet applications. The Oregon Imagery Explorer provides web-based access to and distribution of public domain, statewide orthoimagery.

“Oregon has a diverse collection of clients, each with targeted needs and application for imagery,” says Renee Davis-Born, INR project manager for the Oregon Imagery Explorer. Users need access to high-quality data and products that can be obtained in a timely fashion. It will provide the geospatial data needed for important tasks such as natural resources planning, emergency response, and maintenance of Oregon’s transportation infrastructure.  The portal also will enable coordination among state, Federal and local government agencies and will make imagery available to the public in a user-friendly way.”

According to Cy Smith, Oregon Statewide GIS Coordinator, “The State of Oregon has taken an innovative approach to obtaining and making available high-resolution imagery at the statewide scale.  Making this base data available to all via the web will eliminate the need for duplicated data development and will save taxpayers millions of dollars every year.  The extensive functionality of the imagery portal provides great advantages for users in comparison to standard commercially available imagery portals, such as GoogleEarth. This portal was financed through a collaborative effort among over a dozen Oregon counties, two regional organizations, ten state agencies, four federal agencies, a timber company, a private electric utility, and several other companies.”

For more information, contact [email protected].

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© 2007 Institute for Natural Resources
(541) 737-9918, [email protected]