LA GRANDE – The Oregon Board of Forestry will discuss challenges and opportunities on federal forestlands – and further develop its own role in federal forest issues – at its July 25 meeting in La Grande.

Federal lands will form the centerpiece of a board field tour the following day.

The board will also review an innovative, interagency pilot project, centered in Northeast Oregon, that is helping to guide a nationwide effort to deal more effectively with wildfire issues.

In addition to the meeting and tour, the board invites the public to an evening social gathering in La Grande on July 25.

Highlights of the business meeting include:

Federal forest issues – Deteriorating forest health, the viability of rural communities, and rising wildfire danger are among the issues associated with management of federal forests, which form a significant part of the Eastern Oregon landscape.

Gov. John Kitzhaber has directed the board to join with other leaders in making the case for an active state role in shaping federal forest policy. The chief aim is to bring about policy change that leads to sustainable management of the national forests.

A board subcommittee on federal forests will provide a draft of principles and roles to guide board engagement on this topic.

Northern Blue Mountains Cohesive Wildfire Strategy Pilot Project – During the past two years, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has been working with many partners and organizations, in the West and nationally, to develop a comprehensive wildfire strategy.

Involving multiple agencies and land ownerships, this is one of just three such projects in the nation implementing what is known as cohesive wildfire strategy on the ground. The strategy seeks to address wildfire problems by focusing on three key areas: restoring and maintaining landscapes, helping communities to withstand wildfire, and ensuring effective response to wildfire.

Fire season and Wildfire Protection Act update – ODF Fire Protection program leaders will brief the board on the fire season to date as well as ongoing collaboration between the department and forest landowners, and coordination with other state and federal agencies. The staff will also update the board on implementation of the Wildfire Protection Act (HB 2050A), passed by the 2013 legislature, which enhances Oregon's wildfire protection system in several ways, including bolstering resources available up front to attack fires quickly, before they become large, costly and damaging.

The meeting will start at 9 a.m. at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, in the David E. Gilbert Event Center, One University Blvd. Free parking is available at the intersection of 6th and G Ave.

The community social, open to the public, will be from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Sternard Garden at the David E. Gilbert Event Center.

On Friday, July 26, the board will take a field tour with a focus on the policies, opportunities and management challenges associated with federal forests. Members of the public wishing to join the tour are asked to bring their lunch and provide their own transportation.

The tour will start with a briefing at 7:30 a.m. in the parking lot of the La Grande Best Western, 1711 21st St., in La Grande. The tour will conclude at 4 p.m.

Accommodations for people with disabilities, and special materials, services or assistance can be arranged calling the department's Public Affairs Office at least 48 hours before the meeting, at 503-945-7200.

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