Working Together to Restore our Forests

Experts agree that much of central Oregon’s federal forests are out of balance. Too many small trees crowd the landscape putting homes and property at risk from intense wildfires. But what to do about it?

For decades, finding common ground on forest management has placed competing interests at loggerheads. But in central Oregon, a diverse group of stakeholders are working together to create solutions—solutions guided by science that strive for balance, landscape scale and local economic benefits.

“Decades of disagreement by various factions have left us with a forest that is out of whack from its original state,” said David Stowe, Board Member Oregon Chapter Sierra Club.

The six-minute video showcases how stakeholders are working toward a shared goal of restoring central Oregon’s forests and making them more resilient to fire.

“The forests are central Oregon are adapted to fire,” said Pete Caliguiri, The Nature Conservancy Fire Ecologist. “With 450,000 acres of forest in need of restoration, it is important that we learn how to scale up our efforts. The use of sound science should continue to guide our efforts.”

Forest restoration is expensive and results in a lot of by-products, some of which have commercial value and some that don’t. Finding markets for the small trees and brush restoration projects create would help lower the costs and create more local jobs.

“Ideally we’d have markets for the small trees and biomass that result from these treatments,” said Nicole Strong, Assistant Professor at Oregon State University College of Forestry.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to create markets for some of these by-products like firewood, post and poles, pellets and wood chips for heat and power,” says Ed Keith, Deschutes County Forester. Economic benefits

“Forest restoration creates a lot of benefits: reduced fire risk to communities, improved economics, and utilization of the by-products and improved forest ecology,” said David Stowe, Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club. “We’ll never get the forest back to where it was before we mucked it up. But, we can get it headed in right direction. And it will be a better forest for everyone.”

The video was produced by the Oregon Department of Forestry with generous funding provided by the USDA Forest Service.

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(c) 2023 Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project