Forest Collaboratives Boost Oregon's Economy

Photo: Ford, Brad

Many hands make light work. And the impact adds up. The Oregon Department of Forestry's (ODF) Federal Forest Restoration (FFR) Program is reducing fire risks and creating jobs for local communities. A recent monitoring report by the University of Oregon’s Ecosystem Workforce Program shows the program has supported 377 jobs and added $30.5 million to the regional economy.

State investment yields a suite of benefits

The report notes that the program invested $6.4 million of state funds and leveraged an additional $4.22 million in federal funds from federal land management agencies using the Good Neighbor Authority (GNA). GNA enables the state to do work on federal lands, including restoration treatments to improve resiliency and sell federal timber to pay for restoration projects. The program investments between 2021 and 2023:

  • Supported 377 jobs and contributed $30.5 million to the regional economy when activities associated with GNA timber sales are included.
  • Investments in Forest Service and BLM projects led to:
    • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) surveys covering 18,977 acres for heritage and botany assessments.
    • 250 acres of surveys for fish passage and floodplain restoration work.
    • 21,800 acres of commercial and non-commercial forest treatments to improve forest health and reduce risk of high-intensity wildfire.
    • One contracted NEPA project covering 100 acres.
    • 650 acres of restoration project monitoring.

Supporting collaborative groups bolsters work on federal forests

The program also provided grants to 12 collaborative groups which produced restoration plans for over 1.2 million acres of federal forestland across 25 NEPA planning areas. These plans led to:

  • Over 75,000 acres of forest restoration activities, including timber sales, pre-commercial thinning, and fuels reduction.
  • Pile burning conducted on 48,000 acres, along with broadcast burning on approximately 9,800 acres.
  • Harvesting or processing of about 283 million board feet of timber, providing employment for 339 workers, and creating an additional 483 jobs in various sectors.

Looking to the future

Looking ahead, the Federal Forest Restoration Program aims to deepen its impact. Over the next two years, the program goals include:

  • Support forest collaboratives through the fully funded Forest Collaborative Grants and Technical Assistance and Science Support (TASS) grants.
  • Restore 8,900 acres through commercial timber treatments.
  • Sell 78 million board feet of timber.
  • Contract for six NEPA projects covering 81,000 acres.
  • Improve 51 miles of forest roads.
  • Implement 21,000 acres of non-commercial fuels reduction, habitat improvement, and resource surveys.
  • Post-fire reforestation of 7,200 acres.
  • Complete four cross-boundary projects, which involve treatments on federal and non-federal lands.
  • Engage with 15 forest collaboratives and all-lands partnerships.
  • Stand up an interagency forestry strike team to prepare restoration projects in high priority watersheds.

Source: Oregon Department of Forestry

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