The Dry Forest Zone includes 15 counties in eastern Oregon and northern California. Forests are the leading natural resource that can sustain local economies; many are at high risk for catastrophic wildfire. Rural communities across the region face increasing poverty and unemployment and are disconnected from urban markets and transportation corridors. However, innovation and national leadership in collaborative efforts between federal and state agencies, local leaders, environmentalists and businesses on forest restoration and forest stewardship are creating new economic opportunity. Efforts between two anchor pilot sites located at each end of the Zone (Wallowa County, OR and Hayfork, CA) act as models for the rest of the Zone and the initiative. Innovation is fostered through technical assistance to nonprofit organizations and businesses, advanced training workshops, peer-to-peer networking, and collaboration.
Goals and Successes of the Dry Forest Zone
Develop and/or retain integrated woody biomass facilities and instigate use by commercial and/or forest-related businesses
Implemented several pellet burning biomass facilities, including creation of a Renewable Energy Revolving Loan Fund for renewable energy systems.
Encourage collaboration between non-profit, government, business and community organizatiosn to strengthen local economies.
More than 60 organizations form a network of non-profits, businesses and interest groups to create sustainable forestry stewardship within the DFZ.
Create or retain employment opportunities by generating alternative forest value streams.
Over 6000 acres of private and publically owned land has been identified and will receive restoration treatments to enhance forest health
Develop plan that will lead to sustainable forestry practices and forest stewardship to ultimately create working forest land
Over 100 private landowners participating in alternative value streams:
Forest Certification Systems amd State Stewards Planning or cost-sharing programs
Succession and estate planning
Sustainable Northwest is the key grantee of funds from the Endowment, and as such takes the lead on initiatives in the Dry Forest Zone. Sustainable Northwest is a non-profit organization based in Portland, Oregon that bridges multiple stakeholders to solve natural resource management issues in rural communities. Founded in 1994, Sustainable Northwest is a pioneer in solving problems through collaboration and has grown into one of the most trusted organizations working at the intersection of the environment, economy, and community.
The Blues Strategy
Led by the Forest Service, the “Blues Strategy” is an effort to identify how plan and implement projects in the forest to achieve more of its ecological, economic, and social goals.
The national forests included in this “Blues Strategy” include the Ochoco, Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa Whitman (see map). Each of these national forests have at least one forest collaborative where people with diverse perspectives on forest management work together to find common ground on how to manage the forests. With input from the forest collaborative groups, the Forest Service chose the following projects:
Dry Forest Restoration
Strategic Fuel Treatments
Lower Joseph Canyon
More information can be found on a blog entry on Sustainable Northwest’s website.
To read more about this zone from Sustainable Northwest’s perspective, click here.