December 11, 2012
Accelerating the work to restore ailing federal forests will help both the environment and the economy in eastern Oregon. This is the conclusion of a new report prepared at the request of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and legislative leaders: “National Forest Health Restoration: An Economic Assessment of Forest Restoration on Oregon’s Eastside National Forests.”
The report looks at doubling the number of acres of east-side national forestland that undergo restoration – such as selective harvest, thinning and underbrush removal – from 129,000 annually to 250,000. Doing so, the report states, could create an additional 2,300 jobs in eastern and south central Oregon. The study says every $1 million invested in restoration generates $5.7 million in economic returns.
The work brings timber to struggling mills, provides jobs, and restores fire resiliency to the forest, the report states. Because of fire suppression, historic practices and passive management, some dry-side federal forests are choked with as many as 1,000 trees per acre, where historically about 75-100 trees per acre were typical. Some 80 percent of the 11.4 million acres of east-side forests under U.S. Forest Service management are at moderate to high risk of devastating crown fires.
The report highlights the importance of local collaboratives – in which government, industry and conservation interests work together to plan and implement restoration jobs.
The report was assembled with funding and guidance from conservation groups, government agencies, academic institutions and business trade associations. The full 94-page report also is available for download.
For county-by-county information on Oregon’s forests sector and how it fits into the state’s overall economy please see the executive summary of OFRI’s recent economic study, “Poised to Rebound,” or visit OFRI’s dedicated website, TheForestReport.org.