SALEM — The U.S. Forest Service today recognized Oregon’s leadership towards reducing wildfire risk and improving forest health. The federal recognition, and commitment to continued collaboration to advance stewardship of Oregon’s forests, follows the announcement of a historic agreement made earlier this week between representatives from the state’s forest industry and major environmental groups to end Oregon’s “Timber Wars” and work together on meaningful, science-based forest management.
“As Chief of the Forest Service, I recognize the bold and innovative leadership Oregon is taking to enhance collaboration with federal agencies towards reducing wildfire risk and improving forest health,” said Vicki Christiansen, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. “I look forward to continuing to work with our state partners using all available authorities to advance shared stewardship of Oregon’s forests and grasslands.”
“We are committed to changing the future trajectory of wildfire in our state, and with this letter, we know that the Forest Service joins us in that commitment,” said Governor Kate Brown. “We appreciate Chief Christiansen’s collaboration and efforts to reinvigorate the partnership around our forest management between the federal government and Oregon. We know this issue is too large and too great to work alone.”
In a letter sent to Oregon’s Senate Committee on Wildfire Reduction and Recovery, Christiansen highlighted the importance of collaboration between the state and federal levels to increase active management of forests, reduce wildfire risk, and expand economic opportunities in local communities. She highlighted a few examples, including:
- Greater La Pine Basin Cohesive Strategy Project: treated over 45,000 acres of the Deschutes National Forest and invested nearly $6.1 million in federal funding to improve forest health — with future investments of over $18 million to treat an additional 77,000 acres.
- East Face Project: treated nearly 20,000 acres in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest with an investment of $8.7 million — and a future investment of over $11 million to improve forest health
- Waters Creek Project and Butcher Knife/Slate Creek Project: treated nearly 11,000 acres in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest with a $4.6 million investment, with more than 6,500 acres to treat in the future with additional investments.
The memorandum of understanding signed earlier this week took a significant step toward a new era of cooperation around the management of private and state forests. The agreement marks the closing of decades of conflict and will help ensure healthy forests, the protection of Oregon’s environment and endangered species, and a vibrant forest sector.