On May 12, the Malheur National Forest hosted 17 foreign dignitaries from around the world during the 2016 International Seminar on Forest Landscape Restoration, according to a Forest Service press release.
Participants represented branches of their governments that are similar to the U.S. Forest Service, each interested to know how national forests are managed in the United States.
Of the 154 national forests they might have visited across the United States, the Malheur National Forest was highlighted by the Forest Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C., as leading the way in several areas, including collaboration with the public and aquatic restoration. The Malheur National Forest is recognized as a leader in Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration and the ongoing efforts to encourage the collaborative, science-based ecosystem restoration of priority forest landscapes.
The group had the opportunity to tour several project areas on the forest. During the tour through the Camp Creek area, photos showing previously-barren stream banks provided visitors with dramatically altered before-and-after contrasts with the current rich diversity of riparian vegetation before their eyes.
A highlight for the participants was the chance to view two active beaver dams, built across this channel, further aiding restoration efforts. Although international participants attempted to share the Forest Service personnel’s enthusiasm, at some point it became clear these folks were not familiar with the North American beaver, or how their watery homes impacted streams and rivers. Once this was explained by forest specialists, they seemed quite interested to acquire some of these furry little watershed technicians for themselves.
Later that day, the group visited the Oxbow Conservation Area to view the riparian restoration efforts underway. Here they learned the history of dredge mining along the John Day River, then toured this impressive new river system, engineered from the river bed up.
Participants’ enthusiasm for these successes were readily apparent in the endless array of questions asked throughout the day. The group went on to meet with the Blue Mountain Forest Partners the following day, where they heard additional successes stories about combined efforts in managing these public lands.
Several participants described their visit to John Day and the Malheur National Forest as the highlight of their month-long trip to the United States, and expressed the desire to return again next year with the 2017 International Seminar.