CORVALLIS - Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber will reflect on salmon, science and the recent evolution of Oregon's salmon policy when he delivers the John V. Byrne Lecture at Oregon State University on Thursday, Jan. 6.
Kitzhaber's lecture, "From Science to Public Action: The Oregon Approach to Natural Resource Management," will begin at 4 p.m. in Austin Auditorium of OSU's LaSells Stewart Center. The talk, sponsored by Oregon Sea Grant and the OSU College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, is free and open to the public.
This year's lecture is also part of "Celebrate 2000," a series of talks sponsored by OSU, the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald newspapers, and Linn-Benton Community College.
Although it had been developing over nearly a century, the salmon crisis escalated in Oregon not long after Kitzhaber started his first term as governor in 1995. As increasing runs of wild salmon became candidates for federal Endangered Species Act listing, the state was forced to face the prospect of federal intervention.
The result, forged under Kitzhaber's leadership, was the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds. The plan, the only one of its kind in force nationwide, takes a science-based, land owner-focused, watershed-wide approach to restoring at-risk native salmon runs, initially along the coast but now throughout the state.
In his 1998 State of the State speech, Kitzhaber explained the philosophy behind the Oregon Plan: "... We can accomplish more for our environment - and for our sense of community - by helping people do the right thing than by simply punishing them for their past practices; ... we will accomplish more for a watershed when a community has made it a priority than when the state has made it a mandate."
Despite a court ruling and a subsequent National Marine Fisheries Service decision which stripped the Oregon Plan of some of its formal authority, Kitzhaber this year issued an executive order reaffirming the state's intent to use the plan to guide state and local restoration efforts.
A key to the federal government's acceptance of the Oregon Plan as a restoration strategy is its reliance on science to help shape decisions about habitat and fish management. Under the Oregon Plan, biologists, forest ecologists, oceanographers and other scientists are considered an integral part of the restoration team, along with resource managers, agency staff and land owners.
The plan calls for an independent, multidisciplinary science team to periodically review the state's efforts to ensure that "the best scientific information available" backs up Oregon's restoration efforts. The first such review was issued this past September.
Kitzhaber is the third lecturer in the Byrne series, named after John Byrne, OSU president from 1984-95. A marine geologist, Byrne was the first head of OSU's Oceanography Department (1972) and subsequently served as dean of research, acting dean of the Graduate School, and vice president for research and graduate studies.
Oregon Sea Grant and COAS established the lecture series to increase public awareness and discussion of scientific and public policy issues concerning the ocean and atmosphere and related subjects. Doors open for the lecture at 3:15 p.m. LaSells Stewart Center is located at 26th Street and Western Boulevard, across from Reser Stadium.