A state Board of Forestry subcommittee began meeting this month to explore ways the full board can most effectively work toward change in the management of federal forestlands.

The group’s formation signals a renewed board focus on issues involving federally owned forests, particularly the drier forests of eastern and interior southwestern Oregon.

The challenges include deteriorating forest health, high fire danger, and economic hardship in communities dependent on federal timber harvests, which have declined significantly since the 1980s.

The subcommittee began work at a Feb. 5 workshop, and is expected to present the full board in June with a clear statement of the case for state involvement in federal forest policy, and with principles to help shape policy changes.

Beyond June, the group is assigned to generate ideas, provide capacity for board work with other leaders and groups, and help shape a board field visit to Northeast Oregon in July.

Nils Christoffersen of Enterprise chairs the subcommittee; other members are Tom Insko of La Grande and Cindy Deacon Williams of Medford. Board Chair Tom Imeson of Portland, who has expressed an intent to use subcommittees to focus on major board topics, will serve in an ex-officio capacity. The governor’s office will also name an advisor to the committee.

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