The Granite Gulch fire, a lightning-caused fire currently burning on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in eastern Oregon, offers an excellent example of a naturally-caused fire being managed for ecological benefits.
Located deep within the Eagle Cap Wilderness, the fire is currently small and located many miles from the working forest or developed communities.
In the East Oregonian article, Nathan Goodrich, a fire management officer for the forest, explains that managing fire means monitoring the fire and the surrounding conditions closely.
The fire’s effects could help fend off encroachment from sub-albine firs and improve conditions for species like Clark’s nutcracker as well as the whitebark pines that they help propagate, Goodrich said.
If conditions remain favorable (cooler temperatures, low winds, and high moisture content in soil and surrounding plants), Forest Service fire managers hope the fire will continue it’s movement through the wilderness so more of the forest can reap these environmental benefits.
BAKER CITY, Ore.(July 25, 2019) — The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest has determined that a temporary closure to camping is needed in a small area of the forest due to ongoing resource damage.
This damage is the result of long-term occupancy of the area, and the closure is intended to allow vegetation in the damaged areas time to become reestablished.
Multiple complaints were received from multiple sources. On further investigation, a number of issues, including septic holes, discarded litter and personal belongings, deep ruts in meadows and wetlands, and other forms of abuse from un-managed long term camping, were documented by Forest Service employees.
The Huckleberry Creek Area Closure affects approximately 240 acres of the Whitman Ranger District, located south of Sumpter along Forest Road 1090, and prohibits overnight camping in the area until July 24, 2021, unless rescinded earlier.
LA GRANDE, Ore. (July 29, 2019) — Earlier this summer, Tim Bailey and Winston Morton of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife were looking for signs of spawning steelhead in the headwaters of Beaver Creek southwest of La Grande.
They’d surveyed miles of the creek, tediously making their way over downed trees, rocks, and slippery stream banks while scanning the streambed.
Then they found four redds, depressions in the river gravel made by fish to lay their eggs.
This simple discovery represents a breakthrough for migratory steelhead, which had not been able to reach the headwaters of Beaver Creek for over 100 years.
Migratory steelhead are amazing fish. After they are born and raised in cold freshwater streams, they will swim hundreds of miles to feed and grow in the ocean. Then they swim back to the stream of their birth to reproduce.
For many thousands of years, steelhead followed this life cycle in the Grande Ronde River and its tributaries, including the headwaters of Beaver Creek.
That changed a century ago with the construction of the Beaver Creek Dam and four water diversions in the La Grande municipal watershed.
Steelhead and other migratory fish could no longer swim past the dam and diversions to reach the high-quality spawning and rearing habitat in upper Beaver Creek.
To solve this problem, several local, state, and federal entities teamed up to implement the Beaver Creek Fish Passage Project.
When the construction crew broke ground in June of 2017, the project had been in various stages of planning for 20 years.
Why did it take so long?
Designing a structure to provide fish passage up to, and down from, the Beaver Creek Dam was a significant engineering challenge. The structure had to be low-maintenance and work without electricity; it also had to accommodate high flows in the spring as well as low flows later in the summer.
The City of La Grande worked with a local civil engineering firm, Anderson Perry & Associates, to evaluate several alternatives for a fish passage structure, and other project partners provided technical feedback.
They ultimately landed on a one-of-a-kind solution: a series of 59 precast concrete weirs (little dams). Each weir weighs 27,000 pounds and had to be constructed off site.
Stacked one-by-one along about 400 feet of the dam’s eastern spillway, the weirs create a staircase of resting pools that allow fish to jump & swim up and over the top of the dam.
To date, there are no other fishways like this in the Pacific Northwest.
Implementing the Beaver Creek Fish Passage
Project took a total of $1,125,700 and vital contributions from several
The City of La Grande
provided technical expertise, project funding, and grant administration.
Anderson Perry & Associates of La
Grande provided engineering design and construction project management.
Lindley Contracting of
Union constructed the project, including the fish passage structure, upgraded
several intake structures, and replaced worn out utility infrastructure.
Grande Ronde Model Watershed
facilitated project funding, including $150,000 from the Bonneville Power
Administration, as well as technical feedback that contributed to the
enhancement of the project.
The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board
The Oregon Water Resources Department
provided $600,000 in grant funding.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
provided expert advice, design review, and project monitoring.
The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
provided environmental analysis, planning, technical feedback, and implementation
“I’m grateful for the collaborative effort put forth by everyone involved,” Kyle Carpenter, La Grande’s director of public works, said. “The wealth of knowledge and experience that we all pooled together, along with our cooperative move-it-forward mentality, were invaluable in the successful completion of this project.”
“The La Grande Municipal Watershed provides some of the best drinking water in the world, straight from our National Forest,” Lee Mannor, water superintendent for the city of La Grande, said. “Now we also provide some of the best native fish habitat in the world. That is something we can all be proud of when we turn on the tap.”
“The Beaver Creek Fish Passage Project was a special one for our team,” Brett Moore, P.E., with Anderson Perry & Associates, Inc., said “The City of La Grande asked us to help them solve a unique engineering design problem, which is always rewarding. This project also gave us a chance to be part of something much bigger right here in our own backyard.”
“This is a testament to nature’s resilience,” Jesse Steele, interim director of the Grande Ronde Model Watershed, said. “I’m looking forward to more success stories as we continue to connect and restore habitat in the Grande Ronde Basin.”
“After more than 100 years away, migratory steelhead now have access to over 14 miles of pristine spawning and rearing habitat above the Beaver Creek Dam, and they are moving back in,” Tim Bailey, a fisheries biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said. “Finding those first four redds was an important milestone, and I expect we will find even more in the future.”
“It really made my summer when I heard that steelhead were once again spawning in upper Beaver Creek,” Bill Gamble, district ranger for the La Grande District, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, said. “There is a lot of credit to go around. We in the Forest Service were just privileged to work with so many great partners over the years to help make the Beaver Creek Fish Passage Project a reality. This is another win for our local restoration economy – where habitat restoration projects are driving more investments and jobs while improving everyone’s access to natural resources.”
For more information, please see the article, “Reconnecting the Habitat Dots,” published in Ripples in the Grande Ronde and the La Grande Observer in the summer of 2017.
Source information: Wallowa Whitman National Forest (press release).
PORTLAND, Ore. (July 31, 2019)— The annual “fire hire” hiring event for the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region opens Aug. 1, 2019.
The Forest Service is looking for committed, hardworking, highly-skilled employees to support wildfire suppression, fuels reduction and other fire management work on 17 National Forests in Oregon and Washington.
The fire and aviation program features rewarding opportunities for candidates with seasonal wildland firefighting experience to pursue challenging, full-time positions with the agency.
The agency uses the centralized, annual “fire hire” process for hiring most positions in the region’s permanent fire management workforce.
Specialized opportunities being offered include dispatch, engine crew positions, fuels technicians, hand crew members, helitack crew members, hotshot crew remembers, smokejumpers, and fire prevention and education specialists.
Opportunities will be posted at www.usajobs.gov, with an application window of Aug. 1-28, 2019.
Vacancy announcements for seasonal opportunities during the summer, 2020 wildland fire season – which includes the majority of the region’s entry-level and trainee fire management opportunities – will be posted to USAJobs in September, 2019.
“Fire Hire” timeline:
Aug. 1, 2019: Vacancy announcements are posted to USAJobs.
Aug. 28, 2019: Application deadline, 7:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (10:59 p.m. EDT, or 11:59 EST). Applicants are encouraged to read all vacancy announcements carefully prior to applying, and ensure all required documents are included with their submission. Applicants are also encouraged to apply for multiple locations (where they would accept a position if offered), even if positions for certain locations are not listed as vacant, as vacancies may occur during the hiring process and could be filled during Selection Week.
Oct. 15-31, 2019: Supervisory Reference Checks, and Subject Matter Expert evaluations occur during these weeks. Please ensure your references are notified of this and they are available at the email address (preferred) or phone number provided on your application.
Nov. 4-22, 2019: Selection week. Representatives from each forest will make recommendations for hiring, and candidates selected will be notified by a Forest Service representative by phone. Those not selected should check their USAJobs account for status updates. During the selection week candidates will be given 4 hours to respond to voicemails or emails from the recommending officials. It is highly encouraged candidates plan be available via phone during this time!
March, 2020: Earliest possible effective date for new hires.
Note:Where Interagency Fire Program Management (IFPM) and Forest Service – Fire Program Management (FS-FPM) qualifications are required, these qualifications must be met prior to the closing date on the vacancy being applied for. Applicants with relevant fire certifications or experience must provide a current copy of their IQCS Master Record, where indicated in the announcement, to meet qualification requirements for positions with IQCS requirements.
PORTLAND, Ore. (July 20, 2019) —The Environmental Protection
Agency recognized the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest regional
fisheries biologist and regional Aquatic
and Riparian Effectiveness Monitoring Plan program lead for
their contributions as part of a multi-agency federal team that established a
now four-year-old partnership to encourage and fund watershed improvement
James Capurso, Pacific Northwest regional fisheries biologist for the USDA Forest Service, and Christine Hirsch, Pacific Northwest Aquatic and Riparian Effectiveness Monitoring Plan (AREMP) Program Lead, were among six federal employees honored at the 2018 EPA National Honors awards July 10 for Outstanding Leadership in Collaborative Problem Solving, in recognition of their contributions as the Forest Service representatives to the Drinking Water Providers Partnership, of which the EPA and Bureau of Land Management are also members.
“I think this is the
first time we’ve had a funding partnership which also includes state funding in
the mix. This particular partnership also includes non-profits that have been
instrumental in reaching out to the municipal water providers,” Hirsch said.
“Traditionally, the Forest Service hasn’t partnered very frequently with water
providers so this is bringing new partners into the fold to accomplish key
The Drinking Water Providers Partnership is a regional
interagency program that protects and restores drinking water quality and
native fish habitat within municipal watersheds, benefiting the towns depending
upon them for clean, pure water. A
component of the partnership pools agency financial resources to fund
restoration projects and outreach efforts within municipal watersheds.
Mike Brown and Scott Lightcap, from the Bureau of Land
Management, and Teresa Kubo and Michelle Tucker, from EPA Region 10, were also
recognized as members of the federal team.
The Partnership provides a mechanism for federal, state, local,
and several non-government partners to collaboratively evaluate projects and
distribute pooled funds towards projects benefiting municipal watersheds,
including those reducing erosion and
sedimentation, improving aquatic organism passage, increasing the complexity of
habitats in streams and floodplains, addressing contamination or other issues
related to legacy mining projects, performing vegetation management, and
conducting public outreach and education efforts.
Local partners create the projects and pool resources for action – but if they need additional resources to complete the work, they submit applications for regional funding.
“When we were establishing this partnership, we literally went
door to door visiting city and town water providers in the Cascade Mountains
and Coast Range,” Capurso said. “Everywhere we went, from the ‘one traffic
light towns to the larger cities, water providers were supportive, even
excited, about the partnership.”
During its first four years, the Drinking Water Providers
partnership has awarded more than $2.3 million in federal, state, and private
funding towards watershed restoration, protection and improvement projects in
Oregon and Washington.
straightforward; like everyone puts their money in, then we pick the projects
and write checks. But there are so many rules and limitations on what we use
the money for among the various agencies and partners… that’s where a lot of
the creative problem-solving comes in.
We rank the projects and determine whose funding can legally be used to
support it,” Hirsch said.
Projects on seven national forests, including the Willamette,
Umpqua, Wallowa-Whitman, Olympic, Okanogan-Wenatchee, Siuslaw, Gifford Pinchot,
and Umatilla National Forests, to protect or improve drinking water supplies in
more than a dozen communities (including Walla Walla, Cashmere, Leavenworth,
Port Townsend Wash. and Glide, Eugene, Langlois, Cave Junction, Myrtle Point,
Lincoln City, and Yachats, Ore.) received funds from partnership in 2019.
In addition to traditional projects, such as infrastructure
repair, vegetation planting, and returning large wood to restore water current
complexity to streams, some of the 2019 awards funded conservation education
The Umatilla National Forest and City of Walla Walla received
funds for a documentary film on the Mill Creek Municipal Watershed as a
drinking water source and how it serves as important wildlife habitat which
will be used for education and outreach in the surrounding community.
Cascadia Conservation District partnered with Okanogan-Wenatchee
National Forest on a project to education farmers, tree-fruit growers and
viticulturalists in the Wenatchee watershed about best practices for protecting
water quality and potentially achieving the Salmon-Safe certification for their
And the Olympic National Forest and City of Port Townsend will
use some of the funds awarded for protecting the Big and Little Quilcene Rivers
through improved sanitation facilities for managing human waste at recreation
areas, and signage and even field ranger outreach to inform the public about
proper human waste disposal and the dangers presented by fecal contamination of
the city’s drinking water supply.
Other funds are allocated for research towards future water
quality improvement and watershed protection opportunities.
The partnership awarded a 2019 grant to Trout Unlimited towards developing a GIS model that uses existing data to identify high-impact opportunities for beaver location on the Upper Columbia River. The McKenzie River Trust received funds to research into potential land protection opportunities to protect the drinking water source watershed for the City of Yachats.
Gallery: The Drinking Water Providers Partnership is a collaboration of the USDA Forest Service Region 6, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the Washington Department of Health, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management OR/WA Office, the Geos Institute, and WildEarth Guardians. The floodplain enhancement work on the lower South Fork of the McKenzie River, located on the Willamette National Forest in Oregon, pictured here, was funded in part through funds allocated by the partnership; approximately one third of the funds awarded were from non-Forest Service partners.
Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region (staff report)
REEDSPORT, Ore. (July 19, 2019)— The Fivemile-Bell Watershed Restoration project has been selected for the 2019 Western Division of the American Fisheries Society (WDAFS) Riparian Challenge Award in the USDA Forest Service category.
The project is located on the Siuslaw National Forest, approximately 10 miles south of Florence, Ore., on the Central Coast Ranger District.
WDAFS presents this award to managers and resource specialists to recognize their efforts in maintaining, restoring, and improving riparian and watershed ecosystems.
The Fivemile-Bell restoration project is a decade-long innovative project that covers about 5,000 acres of national forest land working to restore a critical floodplain to dramatically improve habitat for Oregon Coast Coho salmon, which is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, and other aquatic and terrestrial animals.
The project, a joint effort by the Siuslaw National Forest and numerous partner organizations and agencies, uses new research to guide the re-establishment of historic stream and floodplain interactions, and restore a native riparian plant community on land formerly used for farming.
This cooperative effort is improving and creating habitat in one of the most productive stream systems in Oregon.
Additionally, the restoration accelerates the development of late-successional and old-growth characteristics in surrounding forest and uplands, benefiting a variety of species – such as the northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet, which are also federally listed under the ESA, creating a more sustainable and resilient landscape.
“This is a representation of all the hard work that has occurred over the last decade” Paul Burns, the Forest Service project lead, said. “We share this recognition with the many partners that have worked on this project.”
Additional partners on the project include Siuslaw Watershed Council, Siuslaw Institute, Elkton Community Education Center, Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians, Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians, Ecotrust, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Western Rivers Conservancy.
“The Fivemile Bell project showcases the incredible social and ecological outcomes that result when diverse project partners work together” Eli Tome, executive director of the Siuslaw Watershed Council, said. “Partners have invested over $1 million in this innovative restoration project over the past decade. Research indicates this investment has supported over 15 local jobs which is critical in our rural community. Restoring this area is supporting one of the strongest runs of threatened Coho salmon on the Oregon Coast. This project is an investment in our community, economy and environment today, and for future generations.”
The Siuslaw Watershed Council supports sound economic, social and environmental uses of natural and human resources in the Siuslaw River Basin. The Council encourages cooperation among public and private watershed entities to promote awareness and understanding of watershed functions by adopting and implementing a total watershed approach to natural resource management and production.
COLVILLE, Wash. – Objection resolution meetings regarding the proposed revisions to the Colville National Forest’s Forest Land Management Plan (“Forest Plan”) are scheduled for April 24-26, 2019 in Colville, Wash.
Meetings will take place April 24 and 25, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. each day, at Spokane Community College – Colville; and April 26, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Stevens County Ambulance Training Center.
The meetings are open to the public for observation.
Discussions during the meeting will be opened to eligible objectors (those who filed during the objection-filing period, which closed Nov. 6, 2018) and interested persons granted recognition by the reviewing officer after submitting a letter of interest during the advertised notice period (which closed Nov. 26, 3018). If you believe you have status as an objector or eligible person but have not been notified, or if you have other questions about the forest planning or objections process, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 60-day objection-filing period began on September 8, 2018, after the Forest Service published its legal notice in The Seattle Times, which is the newspaper of record for Regional Forester decisions in the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service in the state of Washington. The objections-filing period closed on November 6, 2018. View submitted objections here.
The Forest Service has published the revised Forest Plan , supported by a Final Environmental Impact Statement. The draft Record of Decision and other supporting documents are available on this website.
The purpose of the revised Forest Plan is to provide an updated framework to guide the management of approximately 1.1 million acres of National Forest System lands in northeastern Washington.
The revised Plan replaces the existing 1988 Plan, addressing changes in local economic, social, and environmental conditions over the past 30 years.
The proposed revision honors the time and energy invested by diverse interests since the plan revision process began in 2004. The Forest Service received 926 letters containing over 2,000 comments regarding the draft EIS in 2016. In response to substantive formal comments, and following further public engagement in 2016-17, the Forest Service modified the preferred alternative (“Alternative P”) to better reflect public input on recommended wilderness, livestock grazing, and recreation.
Before the final decision is made on the revised Forest Plan, the Forest Service follows the requirements of 36 CFR 219.5 for a pre-decisional administrative review, which provides an opportunity for the resolution of objections.
Visit the Objection Reading Room to view eligible objection letters. These letters were received or postmarked by the deadline (November 6, 2018) and met the objection filing requirements. The Reviewing Officer sent a notification letter to each eligible objector to confirm acceptance of their objection for further review.
Eligible objectors have an opportunity to participate in objection-resolution meetings, and will also receive a final written response from the Reviewing Officer after the review is complete.
Written requests for recognition as an interested person (36 CFR 219.57) must meet the requirements and were required to be submitted by 11:59 pm EST on November 26, 2018. (Please see the legal notice in The Seattle Times for more information).
Eligible interested persons who have been granted recognition by the Reviewing Officer will be able to participate in discussions with Objectors and the Reviewing Officer related to issues on the meeting agenda that interested persons have listed in their requests.
The meetings also are also open to observation by the public.
As an organization that has a value around interdependence, it is important for us to create experiences for peer-learning and building collective understanding around key concepts we want to move out on.
Recently, our Pacific Northwest regional leadership team had the amazing opportunity to learn side-by-side in an interactive forum with our district rangers, research and Washington Office colleagues, state partners, and some tribal representatives to explore what Shared Stewardship means, where it came from, and how it will apply to our work all the way down to the district level.
We have heard interest from other regions and stations so we hope we can soon expand our knowledge in this arena beyond even our own regional borders.
One of the things we explored was how Shared Stewardship may be a new term for many, but it is certainly not a new concept. The evolution toward Shared Stewardship represents the convergence of several factors over the last decades—new authorities and policies that govern our work, new and expanded science that informs it, and our own internal exploration and discovery of Who We Areand how we need to show up in community.
explored how our Shared Stewardship approach will build on the strength of our
existing partnerships and collaborative groups in the region that have matured
over this same time period. And we were clear that we will need to embrace new
ways of doing business and different ways of being.
Together we heard from our state partners directly and
learned how they are uniquely positioned to convene stakeholders across
communities to evaluate the needs and agree on cross-jurisdictional planning
areas. We started to lay out the vision
for our Oregon and Washington Shared Stewardship agreements that will be signed
with the states this spring and we discussed how to share decision space with
governors’ offices and state agencies to set broad priorities together based on
the holistic needs and values of our communities, state forest action plans and
other tools. We also worked in small
groups to workshop projects ideas at the state scale to not only meet our
essential timber volume and fuels acres treated goals, but also integrate them
with the our other priorities that our states, tribes and communities are
telling us are important, like recreation, access, and infrastructure.
Given the strong history of collaboration in our
region and the strength of our existing Good Neighbor Authority agreements, we also
spent some time exploring how Shared Stewardship is different and here’s what I
would offer on that account:
Shared Stewardship with the States will
elevate planning and decision-making from the national forest level to the
state-level when appropriate. Together Forest Service and the states will use
scenario planning tools to assess opportunities, risks and alternatives for
managing the risk, and set priorities for investments that will bring the most
bang for the buck.
It will use new and existing science to do
the right work in the right places at the right scale. Instead of random acts of restoration, we
will share decisions and place treatments where they can produce desired
outcomes at a meaningful scale.
It will take full advantage of our
capacity for shared stewardship across shared landscapes using all of our tools
and authorities for active management. We will work with the states and other
partners, including local communities, to choose the most appropriate tools
tailored to local conditions.
As we embrace Shared Stewardship, we are also being intentional in creating a safe, supportive and resilient work environment because it is a determining factor in our ability to invite others into shared stewardship work with us—and as the Chief says, that’s what Shared Stewardship is—an invitation.
Once the agreements are signed this spring, the region is exploring how to develop more forums and workshops alongside our state partners and with our on-the-ground workforce to start sharing the priorities and planning projects across boundaries, at scale that lead to real progress. So…stay tuned for more!
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 agency’s Pacific Northwest Region (Region 6), visit: www.fs.usda.gov/r6.(Originally published April 10, 2019, at: https://www.fs.fed.us/blogs/leaders-perspective-shared-stewardship).
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.
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.
By Glenn Casamassa, Pacific Northwest Regional Forester –
Next week, I will be participating with a team of folks from the Forest Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., in Objections Resolution meetings for the Revised Forest Plans for the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests. We will also be joined by other representatives from the Regional Office in Portland, Ore., and the involved National Forests.
Throughout this process, we received about 350 objection letters and have invited objectors from across the communities of Eastern Oregon to join us to discuss them.
I have worked closely with the Reviewing Officer, Chris French, for years and I know he and the team are as deeply committed to understanding your concerns as we are in the region.
We are coming to listen and hopefully begin the process of resolving your concerns and refining a shared vision for the future of these forests we all value.
It is important to all of us that we get to just sit down and talk with objectors and interested persons face-to-face.
The team has reviewed the objections and now, with this first round of meetings, we will all have an opportunity to work toward resolution—not in a room back in D.C., but rather there in the communities with you as citizens and stakeholders directly.
We hope to engage in meaningful dialogue and really listen to the issues of concern and to understand the underlying values that are important to each of you, your neighbors and the communities at large.
We’re committed to openness and are looking forward to the dialogue and opportunities for resolution that may surface.
I have had the opportunity to meet with several of your elected officials and our Forest Service partners thus far, and I have been moved by their commitment to the land and all of you.
Your communities are proud and resilient.
We want you to know that the team and I will be engaging directly with those who submitted objections during this process and we are ready to listen.
I hope to meet many of you next week.
Glenn Casamassa Regional Forester; USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region