News Releases

Stay up to date with the latest OFRI happenings in our news releases, including updates on new publications, programs, conferences, events and board activities.

Study finds 2020 Labor Day fires significantly impacted Oregon’s forest sector
09.08.2021

PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon’s forest-dependent businesses and industries suffered an estimated $5.9 billion in economic losses as a result of the Labor Day wildfires that one year ago burned more than a million acres across the western part of the state, a newly released study commissioned by the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) concludes.

Conducted by experts from the natural resource consulting firm Mason, Bruce & Girard, in partnership with the forestry economic analysis and forecasting firm Forest Economic Advisors, the 104-page study looked at the economic impacts of last year’s Labor Day fires on Oregon’s forest sector, which ranged from lost timber and logging equipment to forest restoration efforts made more difficult by a shortage of tree seedlings. 

The Labor Day 2020 Fires: Economic Impacts to Oregon’s Forest Sector study report can be downloaded here. The report looks at the various ways forest landowners and businesses, such as logging companies and sawmills, were affected by last year’s fires, finding that the Labor Day wildfires had substantial impacts on the sector, and will continue to impact Oregon’s timber supply, forest-related employment and other economic factors well into the future. 

The analysis focuses on the fires’ impact in terms of acreage burned and timber lost across public and private forestland, the economic value of timber lost in the fires, the potential to salvage timber burned in the fires, and the long-term impact on future timber supply to the state’s wood products manufacturing sector. The study also investigated the scale and costs of needed post-fire forest restoration, including infrastructure repair, erosion control, stream protection and reforestation. 

About the Oregon Forest Resources Institute:
The Oregon Legislature created the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) in 1991 to support and enhance Oregon’s forest products industry by advancing public understanding of forests, forest management and forest products, and encouraging sustainable forestry through landowner education. A 13-member board of directors governs OFRI. It is funded by a portion of the forest products harvest tax.
 

Secretary of State releases OFRI audit report
07.21.2021

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Secretary of State Audits Division has released its full audit report on the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI). The publishing of this report concludes a 10-month process by the Secretary of State to complete the audit, which examined OFRI’s legislative mandate and operations. 

In August 2020, Gov. Kate Brown requested that the Secretary of State perform a thorough performance audit of OFRI. The following month, the Audits Division began working with OFRI to fulfill this request, including gathering pertinent documents, and interviewing OFRI staff, board members and stakeholders.  

After concluding their research, state auditors today officially released their findings and recommendations for OFRI. Read the full audit report, which includes an official response from OFRI, here. OFRI has also published a response to the audit process, the report and its recommendations, as well as next steps for the Institute, on its website. 

“OFRI appreciates the Oregon Secretary of State Audits Division for their work on this audit,” says OFRI Executive Director Erin Isselmann. “We agree with the operational recommendations in the audit regarding ways to improve our performance, and are already in the process of implementing them.”

In the coming months, OFRI will act on all of the audit’s recommendations for the Institute, including developing a new strategic plan, improving transparency, and engaging with a broader array of stakeholders. The public will be invited to be involved in this process to ensure OFRI’s forest education programs best serve the interests of all Oregonians. 

About the Oregon Forest Resources Institute:

The Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) was created by the Oregon Legislature in 1991 to support and enhance the state’s forest products industry by advancing public understanding of forests, forest management and forest products. A 13-member board of directors governs OFRI. It is funded by a portion of the forest products harvest tax.
 

Oregon Forest Resources Institute grant funds interpretive signage at Oregon Coast Aquarium
06.16.2021

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) has awarded a $100,000 grant to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport for new interpretive signage informing Aquarium visitors about Oregon’s coastal forests, sustainable forest management, and the connections between forest and ocean ecosystems.

The signage will be located near the existing estuary nature trail, and three new additions to the Aquarium: a children’s nature play area, a headwaters exhibit on the salmon life cycle and an outdoor amphitheater. Construction of the playground, headwaters exhibit and amphitheater is expected to be completed by fall 2021. The projects are part of an $18.2 million capital campaign to upgrade and expand the capacity of the Aquarium.

An OFRI staff forester will help develop content for the signs, which will narrate the progression of a raindrop from the forest to the sea while highlighting sustainable forest management practices. The signage will also serve as the basis for expanding the curriculum for the Aquarium’s on-site, online and outreach education programs to include lessons on Oregon’s forests.

These programs typically reach more than 525,000 people annually, with Pre-K-12 students making up over half that number. This audience offers OFRI a unique partnership opportunity to highlight forest management and sustainability messages for school groups, notes Oregon Coast Aquarium Director of Development Molly Dumas.

“By supporting new signage and interpretive programs, the OFRI grant will help us tell a bigger story about the forest and its connection to the coast,” she says. 
A shift to distance learning over the past year necessitated by the pandemic meant OFRI’s spending to support in-person K-12 forest education programs was less than in a typical year. This led to unanticipated savings for OFRI’s K-12 Education Program, allowing the Institute to provide a grant to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, says OFRI Executive Director Erin Isselmann.

“The interpretative signage OFRI is supporting through this grant serves to maintain our longtime commitment to K-12 forestry education, and to help students for many years to come better understand the integral role forests play in Oregon’s coastal environments,” she says.

“These new signs will allow students, families and other visitors to the Aquarium to see firsthand how oceans and forests are connected, and the ways in which both are important to our state,” says OFRI Director of K-12 Education Programs Norie Dimeo-Ediger.

The Aquarium’s new children’s nature play area was funded largely by a donation from Corvallis-based Starker Forests. It will be built on a former mill site, and pay homage to its historic use with interactive components designed to engage children in the outdoors while informing them about forests and coastal ecosystems. Children will be able to scramble up massive logs, climb a fire tower, slide down a mock river chute and learn about forest animals. The adjoining headwaters exhibit will feature a circulating stream and salmon sculptures. Nearby, a new amphitheater will host educational presentations on coastal wildlife.

Starker Forests was honored to provide funding for the nature play area and the company is excited to partner with the Aquarium and OFRI on the accompanying interpretive signage, says Starker Forests Shareholder Relations Manager and Vice Chairwoman Anna Starker May.

“We have always felt the Oregon Coast Aquarium is uniquely situated to provide interpretation that would trace the journey of a drop of water falling on the crest of the Coast Range through the forest to the ocean,” she says. “This nature play project with interpretation support from OFRI accomplishes that vision of connecting the upland forest ecosystem to the ocean. We are excited to see the exhibit come to life, and to bring forestry education to children and families visiting the Aquarium.” 

To learn more about the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s capital campaign, visit givetoaquarium.org

About the Oregon Forest Resources Institute:

The Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) was created by the Oregon Legislature in 1991 to support the state’s forest products industry by advancing public understanding of forests, forest management and forest products, and encouraging sustainable forestry through landowner education. A 13-member board of directors governs OFRI. It is funded by a portion of the forest products harvest tax.

About the Oregon Coast Aquarium:

The Oregon Coast Aquarium creates unique and engaging experiences that connect you to the Oregon Coast and inspire ocean conservation. An accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums institution, this nonprofit organization is ranked as one of the top 10 aquariums in the U.S. Visit them at 2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Rd. in Newport, Ore. Contact them at aquarium.org or 541-867-3474. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates.

Students test their environmental sciences knowledge in statewide competition, Amity High School wins overall award
05.18.2021

PORTLAND, Ore. – Over 100 high school students, representing 23 schools from across the state, competed in the 2021 Oregon Envirothon. Now in its 24th year, the annual natural resources knowledge competition is organized by the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI). 

The Oregon Envirothon is a problem-solving education program and competition that teaches high school students about environmental sciences. This year students worked together in teams to test their knowledge and skills of environmental sciences by completing a series of online tests in early May. The winners were announced during a virtual awards ceremony on May 14. 

Students are tested in five areas: aquatic ecology, forest ecology, soils and land use, wildlife ecology and a current issue. This year’s current issue topic was water resources management. Each team also recorded an oral presentation about the effects of forest management on drinking water, which was presented virtually.

Amity High School, located in Yamhill County, received the highest score, making them the outright winner and earning the team a spot at this year’s national Envirothon competition, which will be held virtually July 25-28. 

In addition to an overall winner, teams are recognized by the Oregon FFA and the Oregon Future Natural Resource Leaders (FNRL) with Career Development Event (CDE) awards. 

Amity High School received the Oregon FFA Environmental and Natural Resources
CDE award and will represent the state in the National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis, Ind. Crater Renaissance Academy in Central Point was selected for the FNRL-Oregon Envirothon CDE award. 

OFRI is a major sponsor and organizer of Oregon Envirothon in collaboration with a number of partners in natural resources and agricultural education. These include the Oregon Garden Foundation, the city of Salem, Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District, Wasco Soil and Water Conservation District, Future Natural Resource Leaders, Oregon FFA, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Society of Soil Scientists, Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District, and the National Wildlife Federation.

“We’re proud to host this annual competition,” says OFRI Executive Director Erin Isselmann. “Oregon Envirothon helps students learn about the environmental, social and economic benefits of our forests and natural resources while inspiring the next generation of natural resources professionals to sustainably manage these vital resources. Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to all the participants, educators and organizations that helped make this year’s Oregon Envirothon another resounding success.”

The complete list of winners includes:

Overall:
•    First Place: Amity FFA from Amity High School 
•    Second Place: The Rogue Pack from Logos Public Charter School 
•    Third Place: Optimistic Otters from Churchill High School  
•    Fourth Place: Crater Renaissance FNRL from Crater Renaissance Academy  
•    Fifth Place: Sutherlin FFA 1 from Sutherlin High School 

Station Winners:
•    Aquatic Ecology: Amity FFA from Amity High School 
•    Soils and Land Use: West Linn High School 
•    Forest Ecology: Optimistic Otters from Churchill High School and Sutherlin FFA 1 from Sutherlin High School 
•    Current Issue: Sutherlin FFA 1 from Sutherlin High School and Amity FFA from Amity High School 
•    Oral Presentation: Amity FFA from Amity High School 
•    Wildlife Ecology: The Rogue Pack from Logos Public Charter School 

The FFA awards for Environmental Sciences Career Development Event:
•    First Place: Amity FFA from Amity High School 
•    Second Place: Sutherlin FFA 1 from Sutherlin High School 
•    Third Place: Valor FFA from Valor Christian School International 
•    Fourth Place: Silverton FFA from Silverton High School 
•    Fifth Place: Sutherlin FFA 2 from Sutherlin High School 

The Future Natural Resources Leaders Career Development Event Awards:
•    First Place: Crater Renaissance FNRL from Crater Renaissance Academy
•    Second Place: Team Mook from Tillamook High School 
•    Third Place: Crook County FNRL from Crook County High School 
•    Fourth Place: Mac High #1 from McMinnville High School
•    Fifth Place: Mac High #2 from McMinnville High School 

About the Oregon Forest Resources Institute:
The Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) was created by the Oregon Legislature in 1991 to support the state’s forest products industry by advancing public understanding of forests, forest management and forest products, and encouraging sustainable forestry through landowner education. A 13-member board of directors governs OFRI. It is funded by a portion of the forest products harvest tax. 
 

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