Eastsiders like to protest that they are ignored in Portland and Salem, and there’s probably more than a skosh of truth to the lament. Yet that wasn’t the case in early January, as Grant County and the dry eastside forests got a strong plug from Gov. John Kitzhaber.
Speaking to the Oregon Board of Forestry on Jan. 9, the governor made a pitch for more active management of our federal forests.
“The status quo is not working,” Kitzhaber said. He made it clear that the board, while it has no direct authority over the federal lands, should use its voice and its political clout to effect change. He noted that there are interrelated decisions to be made regarding state and federal forests, offering an opportunity for “clear and pragmatic statements” to lead other policymakers in the right direction.
Kitzhaber also said he’s proposed state resources to accelerate the collaborative efforts on the dry forests and the pace of restoration. Noting that the state’s participation could serve as a catalyst, he urged the board to use its influence to maintain that investment and “get us off the dime over there.”
He pressed the need home by noting the elephant in our living room: wildfire. He was spot-on when he noted that the dry forests will always be “places of fire,” but that the impacts need not be so catastrophic if we are allowed to improve the state of the lands. Using a health-care analogy – once a doc, always a doc – he asked what makes more sense: spending pennies to manage someone’s blood pressure in the community, or spending a fortune for hospital care after that person has had a stroke?
In short, he was singing our song – that we can make the federal forests more resilient through active management. And he stressed his belief that Oregonians can lead the discussion, even if the lands are federal.
In Grant County, this is the kind of discussion that has been under way for some time, but it was gratifying to hear it coming from the governor. He has plenty of interests competing for his support; it’s significant that he is using the bully pulpit – and not for the first time – to tout the needs of the dryside forests and their communities.
And the show of support couldn’t come at a better time, as the Malheur National Forest works to ramp up timber sales and restoration work, including the new 10-year stewardship contract discussed in meetings last week. Locally, critics worry that these efforts won’t be enough, or fast enough, but this does represent a major change from the patterns of the recent past. If not a template, this is a starting point for more comprehensive restoration and recovery.
The efforts of local people – citizens, industry, elected leaders – brought us to this moment. As the work proceeds, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have the state’s top elected official in our camp. It’s significant that the governor not only is aware of the plight of rural forest communities, but is taking an activist stance and encouraging the state Forestry Board to take a more active role.
If collaboration is the way to a better future in the forests, and we believe it is, these are pretty potent allies to add to the mix.
Blue Mountain Eagle, Jan. 15, 2013
Scotta Callister, Editor, Blue Mountain Eagle
Reprinted by permission.
My wife and I are leaving on vacation soon; we will be someplace warm where they don’t speak much English. We’re looking forward to the break!
Whenever we fly back to Oregon, I’m always impressed by our vast forests. If some private land has some clearings, I know those clearings are replanted after harvest, and that law protects fish and wildlife habitat and water resources.
That isn’t the case for some of the places we will visit. I am reminded that tropical forests are sometimes harvested using poor techniques, often illegally and with little regard for forest ecosystems, habitat or water quality.
As we prepare to leave, I’m working on one of OFRI’s publications called Oregon Forest Facts and Figures. We’re putting the final touches on the 2013 edition, and it will be available for order at OregonForests.org early in February. One of the charts in it is called “Oregon forestland acreage.” It shows that our state’s total forest acreage is essentially unchanged since 1953. There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is Oregon’s land-use law that protects farm and forestland. In addition, the volume of wood growing in Oregon’s forests is nearly the same as it was 60 years ago.
Another important chart in the new edition shows “Annual timber harvest and mortality.” Mortality comes from fire, insects and disease. On our private forestland, much of the annual growth is harvested, about 4 percent dies, and about 20 percent is left to increase standing timber volume. However, on our federal forestlands, it’s just the opposite. Little timber is harvested, a large amount dies, and most goes to increasing the standing timber volume.
Here in the U.S., we have the ability and responsibility to solve our own problems. In some of the countries I’ll visit, that isn’t the case, and that’s something to ponder while I’m away. My hope for 2013 is that we have multiple breakthroughs with the public collaborations now underway to treat our east-side forests for ecosystem health and fire resiliency. And even though Oregon will still be in winter’s icy grip, I promise to be thankful when I return home in a couple weeks.
Director of Communications
With the turn of the New Year, there are some new resources to help family forest landowners discover who to call. Educating Oregon’s 60,000 family forest landowners how to manage their forests – to meet or exceed state laws – is the mission of the Partnership for Forestry Education.
Toward this end the Partnership has recently released the Family Forest Landowners Resource Guide. The guide lists the organizations available to help landowners, and the services they provide. Included are landowner organizations such as the Oregon Small Woodlands Association and the Oregon Tree Farm System, educational organizations such as the OSU Forestry and Natural Resource Extension Program, state agencies such as the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, and federal agencies such as the US Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Landowner resources listed include technical, financial and educational assistance. Download a copy today.
Another new resource is the Partnership’s Web page: KnowYourForest.org. KYF provides a home on the Internet for the Family Forest Landowners Resource Guide and includes an interactive Assistance Map that lists locally based landowner resources for each county in Oregon. KnowYourForest.org includes a calendar of educational events and an archive of recent conferences.
KYF’s Learning Library provides an array of educational materials on topics important to woodland owners. Publications, videos, presentations and resource links are provided on topics such as Getting Started, Tree Identification, Planting, Thinning, Fire, Wildlife, Forest Health, Logging and Marketing Timber, Non-timber Forest Products, Forest Protection Laws, Forest Management Planning, Weeds and Invasive Species, and Forest Certification.
So, if your New Year’s resolution is to learn more about managing your woodland, you now know who to call.
May the forest be with you.
Director of Forestry
As we wind down 2012, I want to take this opportunity to thank each one of OFRI’s board members, funders, collaborators and contractors for your help this past year. Any success we enjoy is dependent on your encouragement and support.
For OFRI’s holiday greeting this year, we posed in front of the Christmas tree in Portland’s Pioneer Square – what has become affectionately known as “Portland’s Living Room.” Thanks to Stimson Lumber Company for donating the 75-foot Douglas-fir. It’s the 10th year the Portland-based company has donated the tree, and it’s no small feat to haul a big tree to the middle of downtown.
Because it’s a Stimson tree, and because Ray Jones, OFRI’s board chair, is vice president of resources for Stimson, we invited him to join us for our annual group photo. He graciously agreed. Thanks Ray, for your gentlemanly and sure leadership.
So, from our house to yours, best wishes for a safe and merry holiday season and a happy new year. May 2013 be everything you hope it will – and more!
For the forest,
(Pictured from left to right, top row: Mike Cloughesy, Ray Jones, Dave Kvamme, Julie Woodward. Bottom row: Kathy Storm, Jordan Benner, Norie Dimeo-Ediger, Paul Barnum)