A red tailed hawk screeches at the gathered mass of people below.
It’s nest is nearby and the group of roughly two dozen is making it nervous.
To Sialisi Rasalato, it sounds much like the Fiji goshawk he is familiar with.
Rasalato is an environment manager at Ahura Resorts in Fiji and is visiting the Malheur National Forest along with land management experts from 10 other countries including Nepal, Kenya and Morocco.
For the third consecutive year, the Malheur hosted the International Seminar on Forest Landscape Restoration, a program by U.S. Forest Service International Programs and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The three-day portion of the seminar held in Grant County focused on collaborative efforts to restore parts of the national forest.
Tito Prabadi, who works for the U.S. international program in Indonesia, said the Aceh Province where he works has a similar climate, though an entirely different set of problems. A main concern for foresters in Prabadi’s country is the harvest of palm oil, which has a wide variety of culinary uses. Farmers often forgo the government’s complex permitting system and use unsustainable practices to produce the product, according to Prabadi.
He said collaboration with communities and private companies, one of the focuses of the seminar, could be an effective way to combat land misuse.
One major difference he noted was in Indonesia forest thinning could be quite profitable due to the lower cost of labor and higher timber value. He said some workers in some regions were paid as little as 10 cents an hour.
Prabadi has been to the U.S. before but never to Oregon. He said he’s been surprised by how friendly the people are and finds it amusing that when taking a selfie, locals will often come up and ask him if he would like help taking a picture.
During the seminar, Blue Mountain District Ranger Dave Halemeier provided visitors with a brief overview of the organization of the Forest Service, the local dynamics and the benefits of collaboration.
He and other staff emphasized the interconnection of the different systems, giving an example of how a lack of large cottonwood trees could reduce shade, raise water temperatures and cause mass die-offs of fish.
Malheur National Forest Supervisor Steve Beverlin called the seminar “one of the highlights of our year.”
“The diversity you bring to our county is wonderful,” he said.
The group toured the Camp Creek restoration project near Magone Lake and saw the effects of restoration on the forest firsthand. They learned about indicator species, such as the beaver, which give insight into the overall health of an ecosystem.
“One of the things that’s great about being in Oregon is this state’s a leader in forest landscape restoration, and so there are so many lessons to be learned here,” International Policy Analyst and seminar organizer Aysha Ghadiali said. “It’s a leader not because it’s perfect and everything went easy, but it’s a leader because there’s conflict, competing interest and different land values at play, and they found way to work together and work collaboratively.”
Ghadiali said the trip was a “two-way street,” sharing land management knowledge and fostering international cooperation.
“Environment doesn’t understand political boundaries,” she said. “Forests don’t stop at the border.”