The Oregon Cattlemen's Association is complimenting the Oregon legislature for passing HB 4093 which provides landowners protection of their private information when entering into sage grouse Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances through county soil and water conservation districts.
The ranching community expresses concern that signing a CCAA would allow personal information to be disclosed to the public, but with the signing of the bill by Gov. John Kitzhaber, those who sign up for CCAA programs are now protected from disclosure of personal information that could lead to liability.
Oregon House Representative Cliff Bentz introduced the bill with support from the governor's office and other lawmakers, as well as the OCA, the Audubon Society and the Defenders of Wildlife.
The bill is currently on Kitzhaber's desk.
While some concerns have arisen urging to keep public information public, there have been many exceptions made for private landowners pertaining to land management plans required for voluntary stewardship agreements.
A forestry stewardship agreement bill provides similar privacies in relation to the spotted owl prior to its listing.
"This could provide our ranchers with the reassurance need to move forward" in the program, says Tom Sharp, Harney County Sage Grouse CCAA Steering Committee chairman. He is also chairman of the OCA's Endangered Species Committee.
Other Oregon counties potentially impacted by the sage grouse listing decision can now develop similar CCAA agreements under their county Soil and Water Conservation Districts with privacy protection afforded by the new legislation, if signed by the governor.
Time is short, according to the association, noting that landowners must act quickly to ensure these agreements are put in place prior to the Sept., 2015, listing decision.
Within Harney County there are already more than 20 ranchers interested in enrolling in a CCAA, the association estimates, adding that many more should be encouraged to do so.