Forest Bridges is developing principles and practices that will put Western Oregon BLM lands on a path that is thriving and sustainable.
In summary, we propose a habitat-based, well-funded program of very long-term, slow-active and light touch management across the BLM Forest Lands of Western Oregon.
1. The present condition of much O&C land differs greatly from natural conditions due to fire exclusion and past forestry activities (and inactivity). There is a shortage of structurally complex forest, natural pre-forest, standing dead trees, and other habitats. The present distribution of stand age classes is not natural within the historic range of variability.
- Our challenge is to describe an approach to active, long-term management of the O&C Lands that is constructive and viewed as fair from all points of view; timber production, county revenue needs and the ecological and other non-material values of the community at large.
- Short term risks must be weighed against the potential for consequent long-term gains.
- The BLM lands must provide the full range of habitats for the historically native species.
- The historic natural role of fire will not be allowed on O&C lands due to the unique checkerboard pattern of ownership and the fire exclusion policy of neighboring landowners. Active management must replace the role of fire to perpetuate ecosystem integrity.
- BLM management must adapt and mitigate climate change.
- An effective forest management plan for the O&C lands should begin with long range landscape visions for the moist and dry forests, following the principles of comprehensive ecosystem management.
- Dry Forests: Due to past fire suppression, ineffective forest management, and future climate change, the dry forest needs immediate density and fuels management including the reintroduction of prescribed fire.
- Moist Forests: A process to regularly create the pre-forest condition is needed in moist forests to sustain a range of habitats and ecosystem functions.
- The science of managing for structural complexity in moist forests is rapidly advancing and monitoring will help increase our understanding. We believe active management can speed restoration, support natural processes of development, and help us understand them.
- Current herbicide practices and intensive reforestation on non-federal lands preclude natural early seral stages of habitat development for certain pre-forest species.
- The O&C Act specifies that these lands shall be managed for permanent forest production in conformity with the principle of sustained yield for the purpose of providing a permanent source of timber supply, protecting watersheds, regulating stream flow, and contributing to the economic stability of local communities and industries.
- Sustained yield forestry means sustainable forest management which perpetuates dynamic ecosystem integrity and a full range of wildlife habitats while continuing to provide wood and non-wood values. Managing the diverse range of habitats is a sound basis for a sustained yield forest plan.
- The O&C lands are governed by NEPA, the ESA, the Clean Water Act, FLPMA, the O&C Act, and other federal legislation.
- The O&C lands remain in Federal ownership, managed by the BLM.
- Achieving optimal watershed health requires management across whole watersheds but this project focuses only on the Western Oregon BLM land portion as an achievable step forward.
- The extensive valley bottom road system in these lands impedes watershed health and should be fixed while right of way road access continues.
- Stream channel conditions should be restored to the historical, natural range of variability.
- Neighboring forest landowners should be incentivized to restore their portions of watersheds beyond state requirements.
- Adaptive management is critical to successful long-term management.
- Adaptive management means applying the best science to management actions; monitoring what was done and assessing the changes over time; then comparing the results with predicted expectations. Future plans and actions are modified, based on the comparison of expectations and results.
- Historically, adequate monitoring has not happened. Dedicated and sufficient monitoring funds must be provided permanently to support adaptive management.
- Future adaptive management must be responsible for restoring and protecting these watersheds.
- 50% of revenues from O&C harvests are distributed to the O&C counties. The remaining 50% of O&C Harvest revenues are proposed to fund ongoing monitoring, legacy restoration, and adaptive management on BLM lands, as well as restoration incentives on adjacent non-BLM land.
- Implementation of management activities will require a timely path through the legal system. Legal consistency standards among laws, plans, and proposed actions shall allow both legal challenge and a streamlined resolution process for timely implementation.