JOHN DAY - The Malheur National Forest has awarded its first stewardship contract, according to Stan Benes, MNF supervisor.

The 16 Road Stewardship Project was awarded Sept. 26 to D.R. Johnson Lumber Company of John Day.

The project area encompasses about 1,144 acres southeast of Prairie City along Forest Road 16, near Crane Prairie.

Stewardship contracting is way for federal agencies to encourage sustainable rural communities, restore and maintain healthy forest ecosystems, and provide local jobs.

"Especially important to our communities is that stewardship contracting gives preference to contractors who submit best-value contract proposals that display they will use a local work force to accomplish contract activities," said Benes. "Additionally, all commercial and noncommercial wood material will be sold and delivered to local industries."

The contract calls for harvest of about 3.3 million board feet of commercial timber, with the value from that material to be used to accomplish 402 acres of precommercial thinning and slash treatment work. The latter is work that otherwise may not have been funded or treated, said Benes.

This process is referred to as trading goods for services; the MNF traded the value of the timber for the accomplishment of the thinning and slash treatment work.

The remaining acres of precommercial thinning slash treatment, conifer removal from aspen stands and construction of exclosures to protect aspen stands will be accomplished using money appropriated by Congress.

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