(1)Improving fish and wildlife habitat and water quality cannot succeed through laws and government actions alone. These rules implement ORS 541.423 which reflects and depends upon Oregonians characteristic spirit of volunteerism and stewardship. The rules provide the means for the Departments of Forestry and Agriculture to implement a voluntary and flexible conservation incentives program that recognizes and rewards agricultural, forest, and other landowners who choose to exceed regulatory criteria for conservation, restoration, and improvement of fish and wildlife habitat or water quality while managing land to meet their objectives. Stewardship agreements will be long-term and consider conservation from a property wide perspective, rather than at the scale of single localized projects.
(2)This program provides incentives for landowners who meet and exceed regulatory requirements to achieve conservation. Regulatory requirements are continually reviewed and revised in the face of new scientific information and changing social values. As such, the relevant habitat and water quality statutes provide the means to evaluate whether a landowner is meeting and exceeding regulatory criteria.
(3)For lands and activities falling under the Oregon Forest Practices Act, the purpose of the stewardship agreement program is also to more efficiently implement the provisions of the Act as a voluntary alternative to traditional mechanisms of forest operation planning, review, inspection, and enforcement.
(4)The stewardship agreement program will recognize other relevant landowner efforts, such as forest or agricultural certification and habitat conservation plans, which have been developed by landowners to meet their management objectives, as components that partially or fully qualify a landowner for a stewardship agreement.
(5)The stewardship agreement program may not meet the objectives of all landowners. Landowners who choose not to enter into stewardship agreements, although they may be qualified to do so, are not considered less protective of resources than those landowners who choose to enter into stewardship agreements.
(6)Voluntary conservation, restoration, and improvement of fish and wildlife habitat or water quality depends on effective partnerships with other parties. The stewardship agreement program seeks to develop and support cooperative and collaborative partnerships with federal, state, and local agencies and with private conservation and landowner organizations.
Rule 629-021-0100 — Purpose,