Wallowa Resources and OSU Forestry Extension have partnered with universities across the country to create an innovative research collaboration – Communities and Forests in Oregon (CAFOR) to better understand these changes and learn how Northeast Oregon communities can adapt.

In the West, forest fires have become more frequent and intense in the past fifty years. Wallowa Resources, based out of Enterprise, has partnered with Oregon State University, University of Colorado, University of New Hampshire, and University of Louisville to create an innovative research collaboration.

Representatives from CAFOR will share the results of their long-term study on April 25-26 in Enterprise and Pendleton. Their findings explore the connections between forest health, wildfire risk and economic vitality.

For their study, CAFOR conducted household surveys across Eastern Oregon to better understand concerns of residents in the region. Primary concerns reported were: 1) overstocking of trees; 2) wildfire, and 3) slow but steady increases in summer temperatures. These surveys confirmed strong public support for active restoration and management on public and private forest lands.

CAFOR also conducted an analysis of long-term weather datasets, confirming wildfires and temperatures will continue to increase four-to- five fold over the next 50 years. Based upon these anticipated increase in summer temperatures and wildfires – restoration is critical to the health of our forests and the well-being of our communities.

A lot of investment has been made to advance solutions on federal forest land, but it is also critical that similar effort is directed toward private lands. Across eastern Oregon, over 25% of our forested lands are owned by private landowners. These forests influence wildfire risk, forest health, and wildlife habitat and are a foundational part of a forest-based economy. To care for these lands– landowners across Northeast Oregon have begun forming innovative landowner-led partnerships. They are a hopeful sign and highlight unique and effective progress:

  • The Lostine Canyon Community of small woodland owners is the first community in Wallowa County to begin the process of becoming a “Firewise” community. Becoming a Firewise Community is an effective way to bring neighborhoods together, prepare for a wildfire, and increase overall forest health.
  • Partnerships between local landowners with the USFS, NRCS, ODF, OSU and local non-profits have secured over $5 million from the USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program to support fuel, wildlife habitat, and improved water quality across NE Oregon.
  • Family forest landowners in Baker County formed the Blue Mountain Forest Cooperative in response to the high cost of harvest and transportation from smaller isolated properties.

These types of collaborative landowner-led partnerships are an important way to address concerns identified in CAFOR’s research: increasing wildfire risk, rising temperatures, and sustaining natural resource-based jobs. We encourage you to attend these events to learn more about Eastern Oregon forests and the people who care for them, and become more engaged yourself.

Upcoming events:

  • Wednesday, 04/25/18: Pub Talk in Enterprise, 5:30-7:00pm, Range Rider (107 NW 1st Street, Enterprise, OR, 97828, 541-426-2337)
  • Thursday, 04/26/18: Speaking Engagement at Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton, OR (3:00pm, Room 200)
  • Thursday, 04/26/18: Pub Talk in Pendleton, 6:00pm, Prodigal Son (230 SE Court Ave, Pendleton, OR 97801, 541-276-6090)

For more information contact Wallowa Resources at 541-426-8053, or visit the CAFOR website.