Monday, May 11, 2015

Oregon Department of Forestry

Date of the visit: May 8, 2015 
Type of event: Field trip
Topic Learned: About ODF and how do they manage their lands throughout the state
Organization visited: Oregon Department of Forestry,
Tillamook Forest Center
Location: Forest Grove, and Tillamook Forest, Oregon
Host: Mike Cafferata, District Forester / Wayne Auble, Assistant District Forester / Fran McReynolds, Center Director
International Fellows: Stuty Maskey (Nepal), Sarita Lama (Nepal), Miguel Sanchez (Bolivia)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager

During this field trip we learned about Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). ODF is divided in three departments: Fire Protection, Forest Regulation, and State Forest Management.
  1. The Fire Protection Department focuses on forest fire prevention and management for State Forests, private land owners, and other agencies that hire them to fight fires in their land (i.a. Bureau of Land Management, and US Forest Service). 
  2. The Forest Regulation Department provides guidance to private forest owners on how to comply with regulations when managing their land.
  3. The State Forest Department manages the state forests (4 percent of Oregon forests) by implementing a 10 year Forest Management Plan. The implementation is done in yearly operation plans to achieve the greatest permanent value of the forest, meaning to account for economic, environmental, and social benefits. Economical benefits are derived mostly from timber sales ($ 70 million/ year), from which 34 percent go to manage the State Forest Department, and 66 % to county services (i.a. schools).
We also stopped at the Tillamook Forest Center (TFC). The TFC works as ODF outreach arm, teaching the public the importance to manage the forest, including cutting it down.
At the end of the day we were so close to the Oregon Coast that we went to Cape Lookout State Park for a beach stroll to enjoy the recreational benefits that state parks provide to the community.

International Fellows' Reflections:

Sarita Lama from Nepal - Project / Understanding Forest Management Practices in the Pacific NW

Learning how ODF manages its forests to generate revenue made me think about the great revenue generating potential that Nepal sub-tropical and temperate forests would have if being managed for fast growing trees. Thus, to harness such potential Nepalese forest managers would need to shift their management practices from purely conservation focused to active management. Another valuable lesson from ODF that could be transferred to Nepalese reality was having a special program to assist private forest owners by providing educational and management support. Such support could promote and ensure the growing of valuable trees and plants.

Stuty Maskey from Nepal - Project / Use of Collaborative Governance to Manage Natural Resources
The fun thing about Portland is that in an hour’s drive you can reach a lush green forest and the splendid Pacific coast. And if you happen to be driving there on an awesome day with great company, minimal traffic and fabulous weather, it’s as good as it can really get.

Stop 1: ODF, Forest Grove District Office

Without doubt, this visit was very important and interesting. The hosts were keen to share information. I got a great overview of how Oregon State manages its forests. And I was happy to find out that they were equally interested in learning how forests are managed in our own countries. While several challenges seemed alike such as controlling wild fires and gaining public confidence in the forest management operations; there were lessons to learn about accountability and transparency to the public. Some examples such as regular stakeholder consultations, transparency on timber bidding and auction, and clear information on timber trade status on the website, for me, are simple measures that play an important role in building stakeholder confidence.

It was also very interesting to learn about the budget for fire control (USD 4 million for 1.7 million acres), which is a shared cost. The Private Land owners contribute 50% ($1.20 per acre), State General fund contribute 50% ($1.20 per acre) and Public Lands contribute 100% ($2.40 per acre). This seems like a fair distribution of costs considering the risks and services offered.

Stop 2: The Tillamook Forest Center

This is a fabulous resource center in the midst of a forest that was devastated by several wild-fires in between 1933-52. It was heartwarming to hear that after the fire, communities had hand-planted over 70,000 trees and the standing-trees we saw around the center were all second growth. I couldn’t help drawing parallels with our community-managed forests that have now restored our degraded land into green forests. I think the key message is to educate people and get support from them in the big-initiative.  It’s tough to start a community-led project but once started its harder to stop them. The spirit is contagious.

Too bad we didn’t have enough time to hike or go bird watching around the center. This is in my list to ‘visit-again’.

Stop 3: The Oregon Coast

We had a great time and returned spirited, sun-kissed and sand-dollar rich.

Miguel Sanchez from Bolivia - Project /  Forest Nurseries

The forest sector is an important part of the Oregon’s economy, in the recreational and timber production areas. The Tillamook State Forest is located in the Northwest corner of Oregon, between Portland and the coast,
The ODF office in this area manages the western portion of the Tillamook State Forest. The district administers rules and laws applicable to forest activities, and provides fire protection on state and privately owned land within the district. Their core activity is the fire control. This assignment is important for caring the natural resources, due to danger that it represents for the flora, fauna and the economy stability of the area. Fire has always been part of the forest ecosystems, but this area has a long and sad  record in relation to subsequent fires every six years. The images can be seen in the museum, where the fire is reflected as a part of the Tillamook History and their people.

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