State audit: Oregon Forest Resources Institute favored forest industry

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Forest Resources Institute is being asked to improve its performance and operations following an audit conducted by the Secretary of State’s Office.

The audit claims the state agency’s public research and advertising efforts may be working to shift public opinions and attitudes to favor the forest industry, rather than providing objective information.

The Beaverton-based OFRI was established back in 1991 to create forestry education programs and materials.

It’s at risk of statutory non-compliance after participating in various events and outreach activities that covered controversial topic areas, which may have catered to policymakers.

The Secretary of State’s audit says between 2019 and 2020, the agency’s content garnered over 52 million impressions across advertising, digital media, online streaming, and trade print.

“The Oregon Forest Resources Institute audit demonstrates how critical it is for public-funded agencies to be transparent and accountable to Oregonians,” said Oregon Secretary of State, Shemia Fagan.

The audit says the agency hasn’t adopted quality standards and stakeholder trust varies.

OFRI responded to the audit on its website.

It said: “We agree with the operational recommendations in the audit regarding ways to improve our performance. Indeed, we’re already in the process of implementing them.”

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Mariah Mills
NBC5 News reporter Mariah Mills is a Medford native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor's Degree in journalism. She also minored in sociology. In school, she covered Oregon athletics for the student-run television station, Duck TV. When she's not reporting, she’s reading, hiking and rooting for her favorite teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Oregon Ducks.