Making Oregon Safe for the Pesticide Industry

Tucked into a rather typical story about spending by lobbyists attempting to influence legislators were a couple of choice little nuggets. From the AP:

Oregonians for Food and Shelter, a pesticide industry advocacy group, for example, sent New Year’s Eve flowers to three top-ranking Republican lawmakers: House Speaker Karen Minnis, Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli and House Majority Leader Wayne Scott. ...

For some groups, lobbying dollars spent in 2005 clearly paid off. ...Oregonians for Food and Shelter won significant concessions in a pesticides reporting law that has drawn opposition from agriculture interests.

“The pesticides reporting bill went way better than we expected it to, and that was because of the House leadership,’’ said Paulette Pyle, grassroots director for the group. “They pulled that through for us.’’

Your Republican Legislature: Making Oregon Safe for the Pesticide Industry.

Tom Delay would be proud.

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    I saw this in print, and I couldn't make it past the first line of the paragraph before putting the paper down, I was laughing so hard:

    Oregonians for Food and Shelter, a pesticide industry advocacy group

    A masterwork of obfuscatory nomenclature!

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    Oh yeah, that's one of the classic ones here in Oregon. What's worse is that the House GOP just gave 'em what they wanted.

    Actually, MORE than they wanted. Unbelievable.

  • Becky (unverified)

    I really can't imagine how these people sleep at night. The name of the group alone tells you they're a bunch of liars.

  • Bob (unverified)

    I have heard that OFS has huge power within the Republican ranks. This a group that flies is below the radar, but everyone should know about these guys. This power comes from big-time back room deals. The media gives these guys a pass.



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    remember, Tom DeLay is a former exterminator...big surprise.

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    I remember back to 1996 when their spokesperson, Paulette Pyle, took a leave of absence - and worked full-time as statewide field director for Gordon Smith for US Senate.

  • artsasinic (unverified)

    Thanks for the website, Bob. Just checked it out. Now, ya gotta wonder who the "many members of Oregon's congressional delegation" that she claims "strong ties" to....

  • jjohnson (unverified)

    for the record, it shouldn't go unstated that both parties agreed to the pesticides reporting bill that paulette pyle is so proud of. her summary that it "went way better than we expected it to" is an understatement. the bill managed to weaken a program that was already so basic as to just require disclosure of pesticide use and where it occurred.

    it took more than paulette's money for the Rs to accomplish this gutting...the senate Ds and the Oregon Environmental Council both agreed to this rollback of a basic environmental law in "exchange" for getting the program funded, even though the new version of the program is basically meaningless. under the new rules, pesticide users in rural areas only report which watershed the use occurred in -- not so good for letting people have any idea whether pesticide use occurred close enough to threaten health.

  • duke (unverified)

    Oregonians for poison and clearcuts has long been the bane of progressive environmental initiatives. Last August they hosted a fundraiser for US House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo who was touring the West raising money for his pet project-namely gutting the Endangered Species Act and mounting it on his office wall. From the OFS website:

    CONGRESSMAN POMBO EVENT On Thursday evening, August 18th at 6:00 p.m. please join us in welcoming Congressman Pombo to Oregon. As Chairman of the House Resources Committee, Congressman Pombo is leading the effort to make changes to ESA. He faces an uphill fight and needs to know people "on the ground" support changes to the act. Please join us for this important event in Wilsonville at the Holiday Inn..."Congressman Pombo Invitation"

    The changes they refer to would remove the ability of the government to protect habitat for threatened wildlife and transfer control of biological listing decisions to political appointees.

    Now knowing that not everyone at Blue Oregon cares about endangered wildlife, I'd offer the observation that the impending closure of the Pacific salmon fishery AND the resulting economic disaster, are a direct result of the Bush administration's cynical manipulation of and refusal to enforce the Act. That manipulation led to the death of 80,000 chinook salmon in the fetid, polluted Klamath river in 2002. Those 80,000 didn't reproduce and now, their offspring aren't around in large enough numbers to be caught or to return to the river to spawn. In case you're wondering what the river was polluted with, I'd direct your attention to the Klamath Basin reclamation project and the potato and onion crops located 150 miles upstream.

    Regrettably, OFS used its influence with Governor Kulongoski to convince him to support a misguided delisting decision for other salmon populations, specifically, the coastal coho salmon. This despite the fact that there's no data to back up the claim that they are "out of the woods"( or

    As Bullwinkle once noted: "with friends like this, who needs enemies?"

  • duke (unverified)

    Some more background on the Bush/OFS/Kulongoski links:

    U.S. decides Oregon coho can make it without federal help Signature salmon - Praising state progress, officials opt not to protect a struggling species January 18, 2006 The Oregonian (OR) By Michael Milstein

    The Bush administration has bought an argument by state officials that the Oregon coastal coho salmon is tough enough to weather sharp declines without federal protection from the Endangered Species Act.

    The administration, through the National Marine Fisheries Service, said Tuesday it would not restore safeguards for the coastal coho, which today numbers about one-tenth of its historic populations.

    That means the troubled Oregon species that was once a staple of coastal fishing fleets will remain in state hands, freeing loggers, farmers and other businesses from the regulations that would have otherwise come with federal protections.

    The decision overrode the concerns of scientists who said a few years of favorable conditions at sea may be hiding underlying trouble for the species.

    However, many saw the decision as a key achievement for the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds, an initiative of former Gov. John Kitzhaber, which sought to head off federal rules by taking steps to help salmon on a state level. The state sharply restricted coho fishing, stopped its hatcheries from churning out fish to compete with wild coho and stepped up efforts to restore habitat.

    "It's a good shot for the Oregon Plan and all of us who have worked on it," said Jake Gibbs, a management forester {and OFS Board Chairman, Duke notes} at Lone Rock Timber in Roseburg. He said the company has reduced erosion from roads and removed culverts that were obstacles to salmon.

    "It doesn't mean we stop doing it," he said. "It gets me fired up to do more."

    It also reflects a drive by the Bush administration to emphasize local control over wildlife issues, much to the dismay of environmental groups, which argue that federal protection is essential to the coho's recovery.

    Leading state and federal scientists cautioned that the coastal coho remains in precarious shape. The coho has endured wide swings in population that dropped the total numbers of naturally spawning fish nearly as low as 20,000 in 1997.

    Habitat restoration under the Oregon plan and good conditions at sea probably have helped the fish recently, but scientists said those gains could evaporate quickly if ocean conditions reverse as they have in the past.

    "When you're so close to extinction, it doesn't take many bad years in a row for these things to go extinct," said Carl Schreck, a fisheries biologist at Oregon State University and co-chairman of an independent state science team on salmon issues. "Yes, they can bounce back. But they can't bounce back from zero."

    Protection in 1998

    The coastal coho received federal protection in 1998, when it was added to the federal threatened list. Court decisions involving differences between hatchery-raised and wild-born fish bumped it off the list in 2003.

    A year later, the National Marine Fisheries Service, following advice from its own scientists, proposed putting the signature species back on the list.

    Gov. Ted Kulongoski, advocating for Kitzhaber's Oregon Plan, struck a deal with the White House that gave the state an unusual role in the decision typically made by federal officials.

    The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife compiled a report asserting that coastal coho are likely to survive into the future and do not need protection. The state suggested coho are more resilient than previously thought, which they showed when they bounced back from low levels in the late 1990s to more than 200,000 in 2002.

    State officials said diligent conservation efforts by the state would keep the species on track.

    State and federal biologists questioned the state's results, with one federal panel of scientists expressing "serious concerns" that the state overestimated the resilience of the species.

    Bob Lohn, regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service, said scientists said the state did a competent job in its analysis. He said the state's argument for the resilience of coho was persuasive. And he said the main test for adding a species to the threatened list is whether it is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.

    For decades the coastal coho suffered a roughly 5 percent annual decline in the number of offspring that survived, hitting sharp lows in 1990 and 1997. Coho surged in number, however, between 1998 and 2002 -- yet remained at levels far below historic highs, when the fish were prolific.

    Future uncertain

    Scientists cannot clearly say where the trends will go in the coming years.

    "At the end of the day, there is uncertainty," Lohn said. That means it does not meet the test for listing as a threatened species, he said.

    He said his agency has been impressed with the work to help salmon under the Oregon Plan but did not bank on it to keep coho going.

    "We're not counting on it doing more in the future, although we expect it will," he said.

    Since 2002, coho numbers have dropped off again, possibly because of declining ocean conditions. Peter Lawson, a scientist with Lohn's agency based in Newport and head of a recovery team for coho, said the high point in 2002 may have masked a continuing decline.

    "I don't see any firm indication that the downward trend is reversed," he said. "It may have been slowed."

    Environmental groups argued that's evidence that the salmon need continued federal protection, with the oversight and federal funding that come with it.

    "The fish are telling us they're not there yet," said Kaitlin Lovell of Trout Unlimited in Portland.

    Michael Carrier, natural resources advisor to Kulongoski, said the Tuesday move by the federal government is a vote of confidence in Oregon's home-grown efforts on behalf of fish.

    "It's really a sign of hope and faith in the future," he said, "that we can have healthy populations of salmon."

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