Category Archives: business

Building a Recreation Economy: Community development grant applications due May 31 (webinar May 7)

A woman navigates whitewater rapids while kayaking on Mt. Hood National Forest, May 11, 2012. USDA Forest Service photo.

WASHINGTONMay 6, 2019 — The USDA Forest Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Northern Border Regional Commission will offer a webinar for community representatives interested in applying for planning assistance through the new Recreation Economy for Rural Communities initiative Tuesday, May 7, 2019 from noon-1 p.m. PDT.

Program applications for the summer, 2019 cohort are due May 31, 2019.

The federal agencies are jointly accepting applications from communities seeking help in revitalizing their economy through outdoor recreation as part of a pilot program created in support of President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America in 2017.

“By partnering alongside EPA and the Northern Border Commission, the Forest Service is proud to help communities deliver recreation experiences that better meet the needs of visitors and support local economies,” Vicki Christiansen, Chief of the USDA Forest Service, said. “We are committed to sustaining the nation’s forests and grasslands through public-private partnerships that engage people directly in the shared stewardship of their natural resources.”

According to the Outdoor Industry Association’s 2017 report on The National Outdoor Recreation Economy, outdoor activities – including hiking, biking, boating, fishing, hunting, bird watching, off-road vehicle riding, skiing, snowmobiling, and viewing historic places – generated $887 billion in annual spending and created more than seven million jobs. These activities can bring new investment to local economies, heighten interest in conservation of forests and other natural resources, and improve quality of life for residents and visitors.

A planning team will help selected communities bring together local residents and other stakeholders to decide on strategies and an action plan to grow the local outdoor recreation economy. The planning assistance process will take place over a period of four to six months, focused on a two-day facilitated community workshop during which participants will work together to identify a vision, goals, and specific actions to realize their goals.

Partner communities are encouraged to pursue activities that foster environmentally friendly community development and main street revitalization through the conservation and sustainable use of public or private forests or other natural resources, such as:

  • building or expanding trail networks to expand use and attract visitors and new businesses
  • ​developing in-town amenities, such as broadband service, quality housing, or local shops, restaurants, or breweries, to serve residents and help attract new visitors and residents with an interest in nearby outdoor assets;
  • marketing main street as a gateway to nearby natural lands and recreational opportunities; and
  • developing a community consensus on the management of outdoor assets.

USDA Forest Service and its federal partners expect to announce the selection of eight communities for planning assistance during summer, 2019 and anticipates repeating a second round of pilot planning projects in 2020.

To register for the webinar, visit: https://epawebconferencing.acms.com/ec93eh7zih6m/event/event_info.html.

The deadline to apply for the program is May 31, 2019.

Special consideration will be given to communities that are:

  • small towns;
  • economically disadvantaged, such as those in Opportunity Zones; and/or
  • in the Northern Border Region.

The USDA Forest Service develops and implements place-based recreation planning using collaborative processes with communities and outdoor recreation and tourism providers within regional destination areas. Forest Service recreation programs support over 205,000 jobs, the majority of which are in rural gateway communities near national forests.  The agency partners with states, tribes, local communities, and landowners to promote shared stewardship of public and privately-owned forests and grasslands.

The Northern Border Regional Commission provides federal funds for critical economic and community development projects throughout the northeast.  These investments lead to new jobs being created and leverages substantial private sector investments. 

EPA’s Smart Sectors program also provides support to grow the outdoor recreation economy. In 2018, EPA offices in the New England and Mountains and Plains regions established Smart Sectors programs that recognize the wealth of natural resources and outdoor recreational opportunities that can be leveraged to create jobs, spur new businesses, and support economic revitalization.

For more information:

USDA Forest Service – https://www.fs.fed.us/

EPA Community Revitalization and Smart Sectors partnerships – https://www.epa.gov/community-revitalizat and https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/recreation-economy-rural-communities.

Northern Border Regional Commission – http://www.nbrc.gov/


Source information: U.S.Environmental Protection Agency Public Affairs (joint press release)
https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/trump-administration-help-rural-communities-grow-recreation-economy

Holden Mine: From Contamination to Recovery

WENATCHEE, Wash. –  Deep in the heart of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, a dramatic sight was unfolding on the landscape above Lake Chelan. For five summers, bulldozers, graders, loaders, and excavators worked to reshape a rock-strewn mountain side, hauling loads of mine waste tailings across a 90-acre cleanup site until, for the first time in more than 60 years, the once-toxic area around the former Holden copper mine was again able to sustain healthy native vegetation and wildlife.

Abandoned in 1957, the Holden Mine contaminated groundwater with five toxic metals including aluminum, cadmium, copper, iron and zinc. These heavy metals washed downstream, polluting water in Railroad Creek, a major tributary to Lake Chelan. The metals also created a hazardous, hard orange coating known as ferricrete on the stream bed.

Unstable waste rock and tailings piles from approximately 10 million tons of mined ore further compounded the problem.

Today, thousands of gallons of contaminated groundwater are treated each day, through an on-site treatment plant. A concrete barrier between the toxic tailings pile and creek will prevent water runoff from the pile and reduce the chance of future contamination.

The remediation effort cost nearly $500 million, which was paid by Rio Tinto – a global mining company which inherited the responsibility for the cleanup through acquisition of a successor company to the original mine owners.

The project was complicated by the mine’s remote location. Holden Village, a religious retreat on the shores of Lake Chelan, closed its doors to thousands of summer visitors it typically hosts in order to provide lodging for work crews during the massive cleanup effort.

Other partners included the Yakama Nation, Washington Department of Ecology and the Environmental Protection Agency, and the USDA Forest Service – which acted as the lead agency overseeing the remediation efforts, because the majority of the cleanup took place on National Forest lands.

Local officials estimate that in addition to cleaning up Railroad Creek and protecting it from future contamination, the restoration effort injected approximately $240 million into the local economy, through hiring of local construction crews and heavy equipment operators.

The project created eight permanent jobs at the water treatment plant, and an additional site manager position in Chelan, Wash.

In September, the Forest Service released a Five-Year Site Review which documents the cleanup effort to date, and outlines future monitoring and additional work that is required.

For more information: Visit www.holdenminecleanup.com


Source information: The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest encompasses more than 4-million acres in Washington state, extending from the Canadian border to the Goat Rocks Wilderness. Elevations range from below 1,000 ft. to over 9,000 ft., and the forest is very diverse – from the high, glaciated alpine peaks along the Cascade Crest, through deep, lush valleys of old growth forest, to the dry and rugged shrub-steppe country at its eastern edge. Precipitation varies from more than 70 inches annually along the crest to less than 10-inches at its eastern edge.

Open letter to Blue Mountains communities: First round of objection-resolution meetings a positive step

Leadership Corner - Glenn Casamassa

On Dec. 14, 2018, Pacific Northwest Regional Forester Glenn Casamassa released the following “open letter” to the communities affected by the proposed Blue Mountains revised forest plan (Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests), including those who submitted formal objections or participated in objections resolutions meetings as part of the ongoing plan revision process.

See also:

https://yournorthwestforests.org/2018/11/21/forest-service-looking-to-listen-and-work-towards-resolution-in-blues-meetings/ 

***

chris_french_baker_city

Chris French, Acting Deputy Chief, National Forest System, USDA Forest Service, listens to a participant in Blue Mountains Forest Plan revision objections resolution meeting at High School in Baker City, Ore. USDA Forest Service photo by Travis Mason-Bushman.

Dear Objectors, Interested Persons, and Blue Mountains Community Members,

I recently had the privilege of meeting many of you during the first round of objection-resolution meetings for the Blue Mountains Revised Forest Plans.  I want to sincerely thank everyone who participated.

Over 300 Objectors, Interested Persons, and public observers attended meetings in John Day, Pendleton, Wallowa, Baker City, and La Grande, Oregon.

I am grateful for the time and effort invested by each of you. I hope you will agree that this first round of resolution meetings was a positive step.

The meetings were led by objection reviewing officers based in Washington, D.C., with support and coordination from the Pacific Northwest Regional Office as well as the Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests.

The goal for these initial meetings was to bring clarity and mutual understanding to the Blue Mountain Forest Plan objection issues.

The dialogue helped Forest Service leadership and staff to better understand your values, concerns, and views.

Spending time in Eastern Oregon improved much more than our understanding of the issues identified in the objections, though.

Through our initial discussions we also gained a deeper appreciation of local residents’ special relationships with the land.

We had it affirmed that, for many of those who live in and around the Blue Mountains, these national forests are not just places to visit and recreate – the forests are a vital part of your community life, identity, heritage, and livelihoods.

The Forest Service is striving to honor these special relationships in the Blue Mountain Forest Plan’s resolution process.

In doing so, we will better respect the views of many different community members – including our Tribal neighbors, the States of Oregon and Washington, County and other local government representatives, user groups, environmental groups, industry, and business – all of whom seek assurances that the Forest Service will protect their priority resources.

During the initial meetings the Forest Service heard a lot about a wide range of topics, including access; aquatic and riparian conservation; elk security and bighorn sheep; fire and fuels; fish, wildlife, and plants; livestock grazing; local government cooperation and coordination; public participation; social and economic issues; timber and vegetation; and wilderness, backcountry, and other special areas.

Digging into these topics in person gave the Forest Service the opportunity to explore issues that were not as prominent in the written objection letters.  From the dialogue, some issues appear to be close to resolution while others will require further discussion, so there will be more steps to take in this process.

The Forest Service knows that many topics are interrelated, and we will work to pull together the related topics for discussion in future meetings, so all of us can better see the connections and consider the trade-offs of potential resolutions.

The Forest Service also understands that not all Objectors and Interested Persons were able to attend the first round of meetings or have their voices represented by others.

So, as we navigate these next steps, the Forest Service will work ensure we are as inclusive as possible in future objections-resolutions meetings.

Over the coming weeks the reviewing officers will be studying the notes and reflecting on what we heard in the first round of resolution meetings and we will be helping the Washington Office in scheduling the next round of objections-resolutions meetings. We will be in touch again to announce the next steps.

Thank you for your contributions, and I look forward to making more progress together in the near future.

Kind regards,
Glenn Casamassa,
Pacific Northwest Regional Forester 



Source Information: Glenn Casamassa is the Regional Forest for the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region, supervising operations and staff on all national forests and grassland in Oregon and Washington State. For more information about the Blue Mountains Forest Plan planning process and scheduled objections resolution meetings, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/r6/landmanagement/planning/?cid=fseprd584707&width=full

In the News: First-of-kind torrefaction plant to open in eastern Oregon

A forested hill, with snow-dusted mountain tops in the distance.

Northwest News Network reporter Tom Banse explains “torrefaction” in this story about a first-of-it’s-kind facility for converting wood chips into a material that can be used as a substitute fuel in coal-fired power plants.

The facility will be located inside the Malheur Lumber Company mill in John Day, Ore. Wood chips will be supplied from biomass produced by stewardship work on the Malheur National Forest.

A major challenge to the Forest Service ability to coordinate stewardship work is the lack of commercially viable markets for biomass, which includes small-diameter trees and branches of the type removed during fuels reduction and forest thinning projects. The agency contributed financially to the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Inc. wood-to-energy grant program, which funds research towards developing new, commercially-viable wood-based biofuels products .

Full story, via Spokane Public Radio: http://www.spokanepublicradio.org/post/your-word-day-torrefaction-first-its-kind-plant-open-eastern-oregon