In November 2017, The West Bend Project received the 2017 Forest Service’s Chief’s Honor Award, the highest award given by the Forest Service.
“The Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project team hosted meetings, field trips, presentations and conducted a vast awareness campaign to get buy-in for this project while the employees of the Deschutes National Forest put in literally thousands of hours planning, and now, implementation. This is a true demonstration of how well we can do when we build community support for restoration and how that allows us to increase the pace and scale of restoration in the future.”
- Kevin Larkin, District Ranger on the Bend-Fort Rock District of the Deschutes National Forest
In 2020, the DCFP proposed and was awarded an extension of an additional 5 years for participation in Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program in order to:
Complete outstanding treatments and accomplish holistic landscape restoration objectives originally committed to in our National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents
Uphold and leverage CFLRP funding and federal appropriations invested in the DCFP landscape to date
Maintain relationships and trust with the diverse DCFP Collaborative membership that have invested 10 years in the CFLRP effort
Sustain social license with our communities and partners
One of the greatest dividends of this willingness to collaborate is the development of understanding and respectful relationships between people that were previously at tensioned odds. And it is the development of these important relationships that pay back again and again with more forest stewardship accomplishments.
In this day of Internet and social media, people only have to listen to, interact with, and be validated by those of the same perspective. The DCFP sort of forces people with diverse views and interests on forest management to engage with each other in a safe environment, and have an honest discussion about those views. This often results in broader and more inclusive recommendations than would come from individual interests. And it also results in more trust and understanding among participants.
The DCFP provides a forum to work towards achieving Fish & Wildlife’s goals of implementing forest restoration at the landscape scale. Participation meshes well with our efforts to engage with a broad stakeholder group as we define how best to promote northern spotted owl conservation in the dry forests of central Oregon. And The DCFP allows individuals from various backgrounds to openly discuss issues of forest management that could result in litigation, resulting in better projects on the ground—and less likelihood of lawsuits.
How can we meet our needs, such as clean drinking water or harvesting timber for houses, while making sure the ecosystems we rely upon are also functional and in good health? Restoration forces us to understand the processes and connections that support the forest, and encourages us to focus on stewardship and sustainability that will benefit us and our ecosystems for years to come. By working with a diversity of stakeholders to focus on restoration, I believe that we are concentrating on a shared vision to care for our community and ecosystems.