Diverse stakeholders are working together to make central Oregon’s forests more fire-resilient, a success feted in a video released recently by state and federal foresters.
“The forests in central Oregon are adapted to fire,” said Pete Caliguiri, a fire ecologist with The Nature Conservancy. “With 450,000 acres of forest in need of restoration, it is important that we learn how to scale up our efforts. Sound science should continue to guide us.”
For decades, finding common ground on forest management has placed competing interests at loggerheads. But the central Oregon collaboration is seeking science-guided solutions that strive for balance, landscape-scale projects and local economic benefits.
“Decades of disagreement by various factions have left us with a forest that is out of whack from its original state,” said David Stowe, an executive committee member of the Sierra Club – Oregon Chapter’s Juniper Group.
The new 6-minute video showcases the work.
Forest restoration is expensive and creates byproducts with varying degrees of commercial value. Finding markets for less valuable byproducts from restoration projects, such as small trees and brush, would lower costs and create more local jobs.
“Ideally, we’d have markets for the small trees and biomass that result from these treatments,” said Nicole Strong, an assistant professor at Oregon State University’s College of Forestry.
“There’s a lot of opportunity to create markets for some of these byproducts like firewood, posts and poles, pellets and wood chips for heat and power,” said Ed Keith, Deschutes County forester.
“Forest restoration creates a lot of benefits: reduced fire risk to communities, improved economics and utilization of the by-products and improved forest ecology,” Stowe added. “We’ll never get the forest back to where it was before we mucked it up. But we can get it headed in the right direction, and it will be a better forest for everyone.”
Marcus Kauffman, biomass resource specialist at the Oregon Department of Forestry, produced the video, with financial support from the U.S. Forest Service and the ODF.