Governor Kitzhaber today applauded the announcement that Oregon will receive $6 million in new federal funding expected to create 350 new forest management jobs in hard-hit rural communities. Yesterday USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the Increasing the Pace of Restoration and Job Creation on Our National Forests initiative funding for projects in Oregon's Malheur and Fremont-Winema National Forests. The initiative is part of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) Act, which prioritizes restoration efforts on 193 million acres of public forests and grasslands managed across the nation by the U.S. Forest Service.
The funding opportunity was identified as a priority by the Governor's Federal Forest Implementation Working Group, which promotes community-based collaboration and addresses obstacles to achieving forest health and sustainable forest management. Governor Kitzhaber also initiated a Western Governors Association effort to work with Congress in securing the dollars necessary to increase the job benefits and forest health work under the CFLR Program.
"Despite well-known, challenging issues related to federal forest management, Oregon communities have put themselves on a new, collaborative path to finding common ground, and that hard work is now being properly recognized through a program that creates and retains jobs while restoring the forests and watersheds around those communities," said Governor Kitzhaber. "Accelerating the work of local collaboratives is a priority path to increasing the health of our public forests, our economy, and our local communities, and I'm proud to see Oregon recognized as a national leader and innovator."
The accelerated restoration program includes $3.5 million designated for the Lakeview Stewardship Project in southern Oregon and $2.5 million for the Southern Blues Restoration Coalition Project in eastern Oregon. Both projects are the product of local collaborative groups comprised of ranchers, timber interests, environmentalists, county governments and others working in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to address ecological, economic, and social circumstances that affect forest and community health. Oregon was the only state in the nation to have two projects funded this year as part of the program; an additional $800k went to continue restoration work through the Deschutes Skyline Project in central Oregon, which first received restoration funds through this program in 2010.
The projects will focus on active forest management, including fuels reduction, stream restoration, road management, replacing and improving culverts, forest thinning and a range of other techniques. The projects are expected to result in 350 new, rural Oregon jobs over the ten-year period, along with additional economic multiplier benefits. Work will focus on over 421,000 priority acres of Oregon's vast national forest lands, providing wood to mills in forest-dependent communities, reducing severe fire risk, supporting family-wage jobs, and restoring forest health and watershed function at a landscape scale.