July 22, 2001 11:00 pm

By Alice Perry Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Recognizing the different climates east and west of the Cascade Mountains, the Oregon Board of Forestry has appointed a committee to study conditions on the east side and recommend rules for stream management on private and state lands.

The committee, led by Union County Commissioner John Howard, includes two more Union County residents.

The forestry board met Friday in Hoke Hall on the campus of Eastern Oregon University.

The state forest rules now address riparian conditions and requirements only on the west side of the Cascades, where the climate is wetter and more moderate.

There are a lot of differences, Howard said. On the east side, we have drainages with canopy cover and drainages with no canopy cover. We need to draft a rule that is effective for east side stream management.

A preliminary plan calls for the committee to complete its work by October 2002.

In a report to the board, staff member Gregg Cline said that the efforts of the Eastside Riparian Functions Advisory Committee will be directed toward improving fish habitat instead of restoring fish population.

Gregg said that the consensus was that on the east side of the state, changing the fish population level may not be feasible, but habitat can be affected.

A printed report from the committee says that the Forest Practices Advisory Committee, when setting recommendations for west side streams, acknowledged but was not able to comprehensively consider the biological, hydrological, and geological diversity of Oregon east side riparian systems.

Bob Messinger, forester for Boise Cascade, and Berta Youtie of the Nature Conservancy are the other Union County participants on the 11-member committee. Other members represent the state Department of Forestry, the tribes, the logging and timber industries, the forest practice committee, the environmental community and the public.

Gregg said one position for environmental-conservation representation remains vacant.

Well work well together, Howard said. As long as we dont paint ourselves into a corner, well be fine.

In June, the interim committee drafted a work plan that calls for a final report to the board in October 2002. A tour of the forests and riparian areas of Northeast Oregon is scheduled for September.

The state forestry board, chaired by former Eastern Oregon University President David Gilbert, sets rules for state and private woodlands.