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Federal agencies are investing $32 million nationwide and $4.4 million in three Oregon projects designed to reduce wildfire risk from the Coast Range to the high desert.
Work will be done on national forests and adjacent private lands in Deschutes, Lake and Tillamook counties. Funding comes from the U.S. Forest Service and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service through the Joint Chief’s Landscape Restoration Partnership.
“Wildfire, invasive species and water quality concerns don’t stop at the boundaries of private and public land,” said Jim Peña, Pacific Northwest regional forester. “By working together with agency partners, stakeholders and private landowners, we can better protect local communities, strengthen the resilience of our forests and contribute to rural economies.”
Oregon projects include the Greater La Pine Basin Cohesive Strategy, which launched in 2016. Partners are doing small tree thinning, brush management and digging fire breaks to reduce wildfire risk on the Deschutes National Forest, straddling southern Deschutes and northern Klamath counties.
The Greater La Pine Basin Cohesive Strategy received approximately $1.7 million for 2018 from the Forest Service and NRCS.
Another $790,000 went to the Salmon Superhighway Basin Management Project on the Siuslaw National Forest, in the Nestucca and Tillamook Bay watersheds. The project aims to restore native fish and wildlife habitat — including endangered coho salmon — while at the same time improving forest health and reducing fire risk.
Finally, the North Warner Multi-Ownership Forest Health Project in south-central Lake County, Ore., received $1.89 million for commercial timber harvest, small tree thinning and slash burning on both federal and private lands. Work there is being done in partnership with the Fremont-Winema National Forest.
The area is home to extensive stands of old legacy ponderosa pine, intermixed with aspen and meadows, with sage grouse habitat to the north and east.
Past projects funded by the Joint Chief’s Landscape Restoration Partnership include the East Face of the Elkhorn Mountains Project in northeast Oregon, and the Ashland Forest All Lands Restoration in Jackson County. The latter received $9.8 million over three years, and has been touted as a national model for collaborative forest management.
To date, landowners and partners have completed more than 8,400 acres of forest fuels reduction and restoration, generating 14 million board-feet of timber to support logging jobs in the area.