What is the West Bend Project?

What is the West Bend Project?

We are restoring 26,000 acres of forest adjacent to the City of Bend to improve forest health, create a diversity of plant and wildlife habitat and to protect our communities and quality of life. We are doing it through:

  • Thinning the forest to provide a diversity of forest structure and associated wildlife habitats that are reflective of the forest’s historic structure.
  • Using prescribed fire, non-commercial thinning and mowing to create habitat conditions that allow fire to perform its natural ecological function and more closely mimic natural processes that maintain desired forest structure and habitat.
  • Offsetting treatment costs and stimulating the economy by providing commercial opportunities and timber products.
  • Providing biomass as a byproduct of the fuels and forest health treatments, and addressing invasive plant populations where restoration of native vegetation is the desired condition.

Why Here, Why Now?

Historically in Central Oregon small to moderate sized wildfires or insect infestations regularly occurred and created a forested landscape of different aged trees, underbrush, and openings, which allowed a diversity of wildlife and plant habitats to flourish and made forests resilient to large scale disturbances. As humans settled the area, large trees were removed for wood products and small fires were suppressed for public safety and profitability. This human impact created a denser understory of trees across the forest landscape, which is vulnerable to large-scale disturbances and less capable of supporting a diversity of wildlife and plants.

The goal of the West Bend Vegetation Management Project is to restore a healthier and more resilient forest landscape next to the community of Bend. The Forest Service is able to do this important work in West Bend because of the leadership and engagement of local elected officials and community members in the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project and the financial support of Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act funding. In 2010, due to the efforts of Deschutes County, Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council and the Nature Conservancy in Oregon an area that includes portions of the Deschutes National Forest and the Skyline Forest was identified as one of 10 areas selected to receive funding through the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act. This funding allows the DCFP and the Deschutes NF to do accomplish more restoration treatments across a large landscape.

Restoring Healthy Forest, steps in the process of West Bend Project area.

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(c) 2023 Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project