Forest Restoration Projects in Oregon Receive Federal Funding

Yesterday Oregon scored $6 million in new funding for federal forest restoration projects, as well as an additional $800, 000 for a previously funded project.

The funding comes through the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) program, administered by the US Department of Agriculture to improve forest health and put rural Oregonians back to work.

Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement yesterday that the following projects in Oregon would receive funding for the first time:

Southern Blues Restoration Coalition, Oregon – $2,500,000

Lakeview Stewardship Project, Oregon – $3,500,000

And that the Deschutes Skyline restoration project will receive continued funding in the amount of $800, 000.

The projects will focus on active forest management, including fuels reduction, stream restoration, road management, replacing and improving culverts, forest thinning and a range of other techniques. The projects are expected to result in 350 new, rural Oregon jobs over the ten-year period, along with additional economic multiplier benefits.

These projects are part of a growing network of forest restoration “collaboratives” across Oregon.  These collaborative are multi-stakeholder groups working to bring the federal forests in their community back to health, particularly in Oregon dry east side and southwestern forests.  Ironically, because of years of fire suppression, we’ve allowed these forests to become overstocked.  Trees are becoming unhealthy as they compete for water and nutrients, and by suppressing smaller natural fires for the last century we’ve made these forests more susceptible to larger, catastrophic fires.  In Oregon, about 9.5 million acres of forests are at risk of catastrophic loss to fire and disease.

Instead of losing these forests, we can put Oregonians back to work thinning these stands and processing the lumber in mills and at biomass facilities.  The CFLR investment will help us do that.

The grants from the CFLR program are a huge win for Oregon, but it is not enough.  At the current rate of federal investment, it will take 75 years to get these dry federal forests back to health.  The Oregon Business Plan calls for tripling that rate, thinning 500, 000 acres of federal forestlands per year for the next 25 years while creating hundreds or even thousands of jobs for rural Oregonians.  Getting to this level of restoration will require increased support at both the federal and state level.

Learn more about the environmental and economic crisis on our federal forests, and the opportunity we have to correct it, bywatching this 10 minute video featuring Russ Hoeflich from the Nature Conservancy and Paul Harlan from the Collins Companies speaking at the 9th Oregon Leadership Summit on December 12, 2011