Strawberry Mountain

Strawberry Mountain near Prairie City.

WASHINGTON — Five forest collaboratives in Central and Eastern Oregon have received word they will be getting upwards of $11.6 million in federal funding. The collaboratives, which bring together environmentalists, public and private land managers, and timber industry professionals, seek to find common ground on hot-button forestry issues. The projects were selected by a federal advisory committee and funded through the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, which is intended to encourage ecological and economic sustainability and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. The Southern Blues Restoration Coalition, a joint effort of Blue Mountains Forest Partners and the Harney County Restoration Collaborative, received $3 million. Both groups are forestry collaboratives, groups of diverse stakeholders formed to find solutions to stubborn forestry issues that satisfy environmental concerns while providing jobs in the woods and generating a steady and predictable timber supply to feed area lumber mills. Backed by the two collaboratives, the Southern Blues Restoration Coalition has been supported by CFLRP money since 2012. The coalition was initially awarded $2.5 million per year and received a bump to $4 million per year in 2016. Malheur National Forest program manager Roy Walker said a big chunk of the money they will receive would go toward prescribed burning. Some of the funding, he added, would go to pre-commercial thinning throughout the Southern Blues Coalition area. Walker said the main goal is to reduce wildfire hazards on the Malheur. “(The funding) is really helping us accelerate our restoration out here in the (Malheur) National Forest,” Walker said. The Northern Blues Forest Collaborative received $3 million for a 10.4 million-acre project in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest to reduce wildfire risk and prepare the landscape to manage fire safely. Nils Christoffersen, the executive director of Wallowa Resources, a member of the Northern Blues Restoration Partnership, said there had been a significant loss of capacity to manage forests on both the public and private sides since the 1990s. These funds, he said, help offset that disinvestment. Most people, he said, concerned about the landscapes and communities of Eastern Oregon have been arguing for a long time that these forests need additional money and staff to respond to the challenges they face. Christoffersen said the No. 1 thing in people’s minds is wildfire. But the funding, he said, is not limited to fire prevention. “We’re looking at how we can improve the forest’s overall condition,” he said. Christofferson said that includes making sure the watersheds are operating correctly to ensure clean water, maintaining and improving wildlife habitat, and putting people back to work in the woods and the mills.

WASHINGTON — Five forest collaboratives in Central and Eastern Oregon have received word they will be getting upwards of $11.6 million in federal funding.

The collaboratives, which bring together environmentalists, public and private land managers, and timber industry professionals, seek to find common ground on hot-button forestry issues.

The projects were selected by a federal advisory committee and funded through the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, which is intended to encourage ecological and economic sustainability and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.

The Southern Blues Restoration Coalition, a joint effort of Blue Mountains Forest Partners and the Harney County Restoration Collaborative, received $3 million. Both groups are forestry collaboratives, groups of diverse stakeholders formed to find solutions to stubborn forestry issues that satisfy environmental concerns while providing jobs in the woods and generating a steady and predictable timber supply to feed area lumber mills.

Backed by the two collaboratives, the Southern Blues Restoration Coalition has been supported by CFLRP money since 2012. The coalition was initially awarded $2.5 million per year and received a bump to $4 million per year in 2016.

Malheur National Forest program manager Roy Walker said a big chunk of the money they will receive would go toward prescribed burning. Some of the funding, he added, would go to pre-commercial thinning throughout the Southern Blues Coalition area.

Walker said the main goal is to reduce wildfire hazards on the Malheur.

“(The funding) is really helping us accelerate our restoration out here in the (Malheur) National Forest,” Walker said.

The Northern Blues Forest Collaborative received $3 million for a 10.4 million-acre project in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest to reduce wildfire risk and prepare the landscape to manage fire safely.

Nils Christoffersen, the executive director of Wallowa Resources, a member of the Northern Blues Restoration Partnership, said there had been a significant loss of capacity to manage forests on both the public and private sides since the 1990s. These funds, he said, help offset that disinvestment.

Most people, he said, concerned about the landscapes and communities of Eastern Oregon have been arguing for a long time that these forests need additional money and staff to respond to the challenges they face.

Christoffersen said the No. 1 thing in people’s minds is wildfire. But the funding, he said, is not limited to fire prevention.

“We’re looking at how we can improve the forest’s overall condition,” he said.

Christofferson said that includes making sure the watersheds are operating correctly to ensure clean water, maintaining and improving wildlife habitat, and putting people back to work in the woods and the mills.

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Reporter

Steven Mitchell is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. Contact him at steven@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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