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Science team comes under fire
By MITCH LIES Oregon Staff Writer
– Natural resource groups last week in a meeting
before an Oregon legislative interim committee
called for the state’s science review panel to be
more open to the public.
The Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Cattlemen’s
Association and the Oregon Forest Industries
Council asked that subcommittee meetings of the
Independent Multidisciplinary Science Team be open
to the public and that draft documents be subject
to review in testimony Sept. 9 before the House
Interim Committee on Agriculture and Natural
“We just think there should be more transparency
involved in the process,” said
The groups also asked that the team direct their
findings to the state Legislature instead of to a
core group led by Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s Natural
Resource Policy Adviser Jim Myron that in turn
funnels the information to state agencies.
Directing findings to the Legislature, Wells said,
would add accountability and transparency.
In addition, the working group concluded that the
IMST should not make policy recommendations to
state agencies, but instead concentrate on policy
“Our position is it should be the Legislature
making policy recommendations to agencies,” said
Katie Fast, associate director of government
affairs for the Oregon Farm Bureau.
The IMST bases its operations on a charter
developed by the Oregon Legislature when it formed
the team in 1997. The charter is patterned after
other science review panels such as the National
Academy of Sciences and is funded by the state.
The groups, who studied the workings of the team
in a working group formed by Rep. Bob Jenson,
R-Pendleton, also asked for a 60-day public
comment period after the team publishes a final
draft and asked that the team respond to the
comments in published papers.
The requests were triggered in part by a May
report from IMST in which the team concluded that
the state’s existing temperature standards for
streams are appropriate. Representatives of the
natural resource groups said those conclusions –
that stream temperatures should not exceed 68
degrees F and that shade is a major factor
influencing stream temperature – are remiss.
The natural resource groups contend that Oregon’s
streams and rivers have supported fish populations
for decades with temperatures above 68 degrees and
that shade is only a minor factor in influencing
“If they had come out and said this is our
opinion, then we would have no problem with the
report,” said Micah Wells, government relations
director of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association.
“But it is being perceived as the best available
science out there, and we don’t believe it is.”
Wells added that the groups are concerned “that
there could be some policy implications to this
and that we’ll be stuck with some standards we
could never adhere to.”
Stan Gregory, co-chairman of the IMST, said the
team probably will agree to opening subcommittee
meetings to the public. But Gregory said he
expects the team will oppose releasing draft
documents to the public.
“We think this could lead to confusion,” he said,
noting that draft findings often get changed
several times before the team settles on a final
Gregory pointed out that operations of similar
advisory panels such as the National Academy of
Sciences typically don’t allow for public comments
following the release of findings. Therefore, he
didn’t think the IMST would agree to that request.
Gregory said the team would address issues brought
forward last week in its next meeting, Sept. 23 at
Richardson Hall on the Oregon State University
campus in Corvallis.
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Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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