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Forest Bridges promotes a whole-lands-base, long-range Active Conservation approach based on the preponderance of scientific evidence, agency and other practitioners' experience, Indigenous wisdom and historic practices, and forest policy tailored to 21st Century issues.

Our long-term shared vision is improved forest health and sustained multi-species habitats, resulting in an infinite multiplicity of benefits for generations to come.

This approach prohibits traditional clearcuts.

POLICY PAPERS

We write policy papers grounded in our Principles of Agreement and developed in collaboration with leaders across conservation and the forest industry, who evaluate proposals offered by experts at the forefront of innovative forest management. They are "living papers", subject to evolution. We welcome your input.

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Principles of Agreement

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Principles of Agreement

Snapshot Version

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Moist Forest Management Proposal Summary

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Dry Forest Management Proposal Summary as Adapted for the Cascade-Siskiyou

National Monument

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A Summary of the Forest Bridges Active Conservation Management Proposal for the USDA Forest Service O&C Lands

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Forest Bridges Active Conservation Management Proposal Adapted for the USDA Forest Service O&C Lands

COMING SOON

Moist Forest Management Proposal Paper

COMING SOON

Dry Forest Management Proposal Paper

COMING SOON

Transitional Forest Management Proposal Paper

Our Priorities

PROMOTING OLD GROWTH

BOLSTERING DIVERSE WILDLIFE HABITATS

Conferring fire resilience through restoration

supporting early-seral vegetation communities

sustaining harvest revenues in accordance with the O&C act

MAINTAINING A DIVERSE FORESTRY WORKFORCE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES IN RURAL WESTERN OREGON

CORE GOALS

We achieve our goals by building partnerships, coalitions, and consensus across the diversity of people and perspectives of western Oregon. 

Diverse, thriving wildlife habitats

Active forest management across all O&C lands to sustain and renew the historical range of multi-species habitats.

Active, metered and sustained management with prioritized legacy tree retention

Historical habitat patterns created through strategic application of distinctive and sustainable moist and dry forest strategies that retain legacy trees.

Climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience

Thinning and species mixes used to create forest stand mosaics that promote biodiversity and complexity, creating resistance to the effects of drought, heat, and fire stress, while

contributing to resiliency and carbon storage.

Dynamic and healthy riparian areas

Combination of passive and strategically located active riparian management to restore and sustain watershed functions and a range of forest resources (fish and other riparian organism, as well as soil, water, shade and metered sunlight).

Indigenous science and tribal co-management opportunities on traditional homelands

Partnering and co-management opportunities with Indigenous tribes on their terms, to

include Cultural Burning application and native seed and plant restoration, as integral to

O&C active, sustainable forest management.

Robust economic support for western Oregon communities

Strategic fuel reduction treatments along with restorative harvests generating additional

revenues to support rural county services, a diverse forestry workforce and manufacturing

infrastructure to store carbon in quality wood products.

Continued comprehensive monitoring sustaining adaptive management capacity

Dedicated, sufficient monitoring funds for an evaluative program and a diverse multi-stakeholder collaborative group operating long-term on the O&C Lands to support adaptive management by the land management agencies.

Voluntary partnerships with private landowners

Activities on non-O&C adjacent lands that enhance the O&C land habitats, beyond the

requirements of applicable existing law, would be voluntary and would require funding for

commensurate compensation.

Addressing legal, regulatory and financial barriers to sustainably managing and

providing safe public access on the O&C Lands

Accelerating efforts to combat climate change and improve forest health and habitats on the

O&C Lands requires addressing burdensome harvest and habitat management rules and

legal gridlock; increasing prescribed burning flexibility and other fuel reduction tools while

mitigating liability risks; and adequately funding agency capacity and program needs.

Improved conditions for public access requires on-the-ground human presence for increased

public safety and a well-funded roads maintenance program.

Founded on a basis of trust, we collaboratively develop climate-smart, habitat-based forest management proposals.

Forest Bridges’ Active Conservation management proposals and concepts to

solve legal, regulatory and funding barriers for the O&C Lands are intended to yield sustainable forest health and diverse habitats while providing wood and non-wood products, recreation, and other public benefits.

EXPLORE OUR VISION

Get the answers to frequently asked questions

What geographic area does the Forest Bridges project apply to?

The project applies to what Forest Bridges has defined as the “O&C Lands” – approximately 3 million acres - situated in 18 counties of western Oregon. They include the O&C and all other lands (principally public domain lands) managed by the Bureau of Land Management in western Oregon, as well as O&C lands managed by the US Forest Service (A.K.A., the controverted lands). The O&C Lands are mostly dispersed in a historic checkerboard pattern of one square mile land grants that alternate with private and public landowners (see map).

What is the O&C Act?

The O&C Act refers to the Revested Oregon and California Railroad and Reconveyed Coos Bay Wagon Road Grant Lands of Western Oregon, passed by the US Congress and signed into law by the President in 1937. Forest Bridges’ work and proposals include the O&C Lands managed by the US Forest Service. Forest Bridges also includes the Public Domain lands managed by the BLM in Western Oregon, which are not covered by the O&C Act, for management consistency.


Forest Bridges does not propose any changes to the O&C Act of 1937. Instead, we propose guidelines and policy refinements to aid in its implementation, along with various specifications and management concepts to address the complexities that have arisen since that time, with the additions of new environmental laws, climate change, the advent of sserious wildfires, and increased interest in recreation in the O&C Lands.

What makes your plan different from the current system on the O&C Lands?

ALL of the O&C Lands are included in the long-term strategic management proposals of Forest Bridges. This major change in the paradigm of management recognizes the importance of habitat sustainability throughout the O&C Lands, rather than a system that

excludes reserve areas. Habitat sustainability includes legacy trees, forest stands and landscapes, and uses active management to sustain as to renew the forest by creating early seral and promoting other habitats. Utilizing the whole of the O&C Lands leads to a lighter management touch over time and focuses on management where needed most. This proposal also depends on lessening legal barriers and increasing financial resources for management.

In our proposal, all areas are evaluated periodically for treatment or “let-grow-as-is” based on their potential to become or remain a contributor to the diversity of wildlife and other biological habitats. As a result, the land management agencies would regularly and strategically select or bypass areas for active management, based on site-specific conditions for habitat growth and expected development or renewal (as part of future

planning and project implementation processes).


Forest Bridges’ approaches use a combination of harvest, beneficial prescribed fire, other fuel reduction techniques and liability protections, and other actions under carefully defined guidelines intended to increase certainty around the extent and kinds of management, again based on site-specific characteristics. Management is active, creating metered amounts of early seral new habitats regularly, and monitored for effectiveness.

Harvest and thinning, both with legacy retention, seek to emulate the range of historical conditions, and are limited to types and amounts of actions that place the forests of the O&C Lands on a trajectory for developing as much structurally complex and diverse forest as possible, to persist and store carbon, to resist fire, and sustain growth and development.

What are the other major parts of our proposals for the O&C Lands?

We look to cultural Burning and other Indigenous practices, partnering and co-management with Indigenous tribes on their terms as also integral to these proposals.

Short-term impacts are weighed against long-term benefits to the forest ecosystem; forest management is approached with a long-range vision that spans centuries.

Forest management is carefully defined through metering of harvests to support trust and confidence of all parties. Legal gridlock is reduced while environmental protections continue to be upheld.

Extensive, transparent monitoring and reporting on forest activities and conditions is made a priority. New additional funding is recommended for restoration, monitoring, noxious weed control and ongoing adaptive management.

How does Forest Bridges’ proposal compare to Sustained Yield Forestry as described in the O&C Act of 1937?

The O&C Act of 1937 gives the managing agency the authority to create a sustained yield forest plan and absent that plan, harvest a minimum of 500 Million Board Feet across the O&C lands per year. Forest Bridges’ proposals are intended to be implemented through an agency plan that focuses on sustained yield as a goal, and habitat sustainability as an outcome.

Taken as a whole, the specific proposals offered by Forest Bridges are intended to provide continuing sustained yield forestry while renewing sustainable forest habitats across the O&C Lands.

What do you mean by “rethinking protection” on the O&C Lands?

Instead of simply drawing lines on a map to create various reserves of unmanaged or minimally managed areas, we are using a whole-land-base, long-range, active conservation approach based on scientific evidence, professional agency experience, Indigenous wisdom

and historic practices and forest policy tailored to 21st century issues, resulting in improved forest health and species habitats. Harvests will not be based on diameter limits and age limits but instead seek similar result in a historical mix of stand diversity, always retaining a legacy of unmanaged and minimally managed areas on O&C lands.

How will this decrease the incidence of wildfires on the O&C Lands?

The Forest Bridges plan will decrease the incidence of wildfire in fire-prone dry forests through wide-spaced thinning to create mixed-age and mixed-species forests.


Dry forests are generally found in Southwestern Oregon. In a dry forest, the forest floor tends to dry out completely in the summer. Moist forests, in contrast, are found more in Northwest Oregon. In moist forests, fires are much less frequent but more extreme due to heavy fuel loads that accumulate each year. While Forest Bridges’ proposals may have

some impact on the extent of wildfire in moist forests, it will not be as great a reduction in wildfire impact as in dry and transitional forests.

What is Forest Bridges’ proposal for forest development, restoration and harvest treatments on the O&C Lands?

In Moist Forests: Each agency district will be allocated an acreage for moist forest variable retention regeneration harvest annually, based on the amount of moist forest acreage in that district. We recommend that each district do active, sub-watershed scale assessment to select an area for multi-year variable retention regeneration harvest and other restoration as if it were part of a larger scale wildfire event in that sub-watershed.


Selection of these regeneration areas will be based on the potential of stands within the selected area to remain or become contributors to the diversity of wildlife or other biological habitats as they develop over time. By aggregating multi-year treatments in individual sub-watersheds, larger areas of the O&C Lands will remain undisturbed, rather than the “Swiss-Cheese” effect of dispersed variable-retention regeneration harvests. Variable retention regeneration harvests are to be performed annually, with the legacy tree retention standard of 25 – 40% basal area applied, modeled after a moderate severity wildfire.


In Dry and Portions of Transitional Forests: To get ahead of more than 100 years of fire suppression in dry forests, we recommend a very aggressive, watershed-scale thinning program to achieve a 95% reduction in the probability of stand-replacing wildfires on dry forest O&C Lands. The effect is that crown fires become ground fires on O&C Lands due to

stand density and fuel reduction. Forest Bridges recommends prioritizing the most fire-prone regions, and to create fire resistance across the dry forest O&C Lands as quickly as possible. The thinning treatments will be followed by strategically chosen areas for repeated prescribed fire and other fuel reduction activities (and liability protections) every 5-15

years, to mimic the historic fire return interval of the area.


Forest Bridges’ recommendation is to treat at a scale that covers all of the Dry Forest across the O&C Lands in 30 years and includes both commercial and non-commercial areas that require stand density management. The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians has begun to apply similar approaches on its lands to achieve 35-50 trees per acre in dry forests. Advanced cable and low-impact ground logging techniques accommodate flat areas and steeper slopes for thinning operations. After the first 30 years, this thinning process is repeated across the dry forests. In subsequent entries, thinning volume removed will be reduced, in turn lowering treatment costs.


In moist and dry forests, the restoration activities are prioritized to those directly related to the treatment area, including road and structurally enhancing riparian area maintenance, scaled to be borne by the commercial sale revenue and harvest receipts dedicated to the O&C Counties. In the dry forests, repeated prescribed fire, and other fuel reduction practices including liability protection for neighbors -- between commercial entries -- will require annually appropriated funds. We think of it as funding spent proactively rather than defensively fighting wildfire, which should be greatly reduced with sufficient stand density reduction to historic levels in the dry forests.

How will older trees and forest stands be protected on the O&C Lands?

Our plan is expressly designed to protect legacy trees and increase older forests over time.

In the moist forest, Forest Bridges is proposing a trajectory to annually increase and ultimately achieve 50 percent structurally complex old growth forest. In the dry forest, commercial thinning and the creation of skips within the treatment areas are intended to achieve older and structurally complex stands throughout the dry forests by restoring the

resistance to fire that characterized these lands historically.

How will this affect climate change?

The Forest Bridges plan for the O&C Lands helps mitigate climate change impacts by sequestering more carbon to add biomass in older moist and dry forests over time, while decreasing the risk of destructive wildfire.

In dry forests, wildfires and large megafires, which contribute to climate change by quickly releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, would be replaced by extensive thinning, prescribed fire and other fuel reduction tools including pile burning near sensitive boundaries.

There would still be fires, but they would not be catastrophic. Prescribed fire and pile burning are started and monitored by foresters during cooler seasons and weather conditions so that legacy trees, forest soils and adjacent lands are better protected. Liability protections are reciprocally necessary for all parties involved. This strategy is in effect a reset of stand density whereby carbon sequestration can be sustained with greater reducedrisk of loss through wildfire.

In moist forests, carbon is stored above ground in trees and below ground in downed wood, litter, the duff layer and forest soil. Forest Bridges’ moist forest management strategy enhances carbon storage by placing the forest on a trajectory to achieve the goal of 50% structurally complex forest – more than double the current level.

If climate change leads to the drying out of formerly moist forests, the historically moist forest floor material will become drier and be subject to more burning. This issue will have to be addressed over time. This is a key reason that Forest Bridges is now proposing a transitional forest strategy that combines the moist and dry forest approaches and may include unique approaches and holistic Indigenous ideas for management, as well.

How will this affect flora, fauna and endangered species on the O&C Lands?

The Forest Bridges plan will create a diverse range o habitats based on the historical condition when Indigenous Tribes were present These habitats will support a full range of wild species.

 

In moist forests, a metered amount of new and early sera habitats would be produced annually to benefit species including deer, elk birds, pollinators, small mammals, fish and other fauna.


Additionally structurally complex old stands would be increased to benefit spotted owls spotted frogs, salmon and steelhead, marbled murrelets and other endangere species.  Diverse middle-aged, matur forests would benefit species who require this type of habitat.


What is Forest Bridges’ riparian habitat management proposal?

Forest Bridges values understanding and integrating the complexities of ecological systems, as we apply active, metered management strategies to improve and sustain multi-species habitats across the O&C Lands, with particular attention to riparian areas.

Still under development, the Forest Bridges Riparia Strategy for the O&C Lands will center on strategically located structura enhancements that restore and sustain watershed functions to benefit a range o forest resources (fish and other riparian organisms, as well as soil, water, shade, and metered sunlight).

How do you plan to reduce legal gridlock?

Two key ways: 


First, embed collaboratives throughout the O&C lands managemen deliberations through time. Second, create legal consistencies.

 

Under the Forest Bridges paradigm and during the BLM’ forest planning process, the Agency will engage with a collaborative such a Forest Bridges to propose and help refine BLM alternatives. When a new forest

management plan is ultimately completed, it will be subject to the traditiona vetting by the courts for compliance with environmental laws. By selecting an alternative that has been subject to prior collaboration, there is preceden that it will better withstand court challenge.


Gridlock will be further reduced at the forest planning stage, when individual projects can be challenged in court solely on th grounds of inconsistency with the plan, within a more limited standard of “manifest abuse of discretion.”

Who will ensure the plan is followed as outlined?


Where will funds needed to support Forest Bridges’ new management programs come from?

First, the BLM and US Forest Service agency funding appropriations by the US Congress need to continue. However, ecologically sound forest management, as demanded by the public since the 1970s, along with more recent climate change concerns, requires additional stable and robust funding to be viable long-term. Real locations PLUS additional appropriations for the managing agencies will be required to fund the cost of FB’s new managemen programs, over and above the current level of agencies’ funding.

 

The new programs recommended by Forest Bridges include:


·  Forest Restoration of historical habitat conditions across the O&C Lands, with specific approaches tailored to the moist and the dry forests, including metered harvest programs prescribed fire and other fuel reduction programs with liability protection and thinning of dry forest non-commercial overstocked and stagnated stands.

·  Agency and third-party monitoring and reporting of forest actions and the forest condition and their impacts; along with adaptive management recommendations deliberated with a collaborative body as knowledge and conditions change.

·  Invasive and non-native or noxious weed removal and control

·  Public safety capacity monitoring to improve recreation and general access

·  If additional funding is available -- to work in cooperation with checkerboard neighboring landowners to address road system issues related to habitat on O&C Lands that are beyond required reciprocal maintenance, as well as compensated forest retention.


Substantial public support will be required to

appropriate and reallocate sufficient funding for the Sustainability Funds for

Ecological Forest Management. Please become a Friend of Forest Bridges today.


What happens to the O&C Counties share of harvest revenues?


Will this plan help to create jobs?

The Forest Bridges plan will generate a wide range of forest jobs through managing commercial and non-commercial forests, monitoring forest habitat health, harvesting, prescribed burning and restoring historical and ecologically sound forest functions.

What are the steps to implementation of the Forest Bridges plan?

The Forest Bridges Collaborative includes the Board of Directors as the core collaborating body with decision-making authority (e.g., for the Principles of Agreement, proposals to land management agencies, and legislative concepts). They are supported by staff, a Council of Advisors and a group of Independent Scientific and Ecocultural Experts. These groups will continue to collaboratively develop and refine and contribute comprehensive forest policy proposals for Western Oregon lands.


With a foundation of staff in place, including an executive director and community engagement coordinator, Forest Bridges has entered a new phase of engaging other organizations and the wider public to share and gain feedback on our Principles of Agreement and proposals for the O&C Lands. Funds continue to be raised to carry out our public education and collaborative development of our proposals. 


Through these engagements, Forest bridges is also building its network of Friends who support our Principles and the collaborative development process for new forest policies and recommendations as building blocks in forest plans affecting the O&C Lands. Our recommendations are then submitted through the land agency rulemaking and planning processes.  


As the BLM and the Forest Service continue to develop new forest management rules and planning processes, Forest Bridges will assess gaps to address as legislative concepts, in order bring to bear the full suite of Forest Bridges policies as laid out in the Principles of Agreement.


Further along, Forest Bridges sees an important role for an on-the-ground collaborative, in project review and design, as well as in the process of monitoring and changes proposed as adaptive management.

What does it mean to become a Friend of the Forest Bridges Project?

Friends of Forest Bridges represent members of the public who find merit in our mission, vision, and work for the O&C Lands of western Oregon. Lots of Friends demonstrates to policy-makers, O&C Lands managers (e.g., BLM & USFS), and supporters of Forest Bridges the relevance of our inclusive grassroots collaboration and its proposals. Friends receive our periodic newsletter and other updates, and are first to receive invitations to our public events. While Forest Bridges does not ask Friends for financial support, donations are welcome to help fund our operational and program costs.

Why form Forest Bridges and develop a large network of Friends?

We believe that when it comes to effective forest management and modifying forest policy, time is running short. We are living through a time  of climate change with increasing severe wildfire and multi-species habitat loss, combined with legal gridlock and misplaced funds. The focus is on defensive firefighting rather than proactive forestry. Forest Bridges seeks to reverse this trend timely proposals to increase public awareness and to gain from the backing of a wide range of persons and entities. Widespread support is needed because we’re working together to shift a paradigm.

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GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Adaptive Management:

Adaptive management is a process of gathering and using scientific information to evaluate and improve forest management decisions and practices on the ground.

All-Lands Active Conservation Management (a Forest Bridges term):

Active forest management approaches for the dry, moist and transitional forests of the O&C Lands of western Oregon that integrate western science-based ecological forestry/silviculture-based methods and Indigenous Knowledge and Practices for managing forests and ecosystems. Current fixed location reserves are replaced with an all-lands approach that applies metered, monitored harvest strategies and beneficial fire (i.e., prescribed fire and cultural burning) to achieve specified habitat diversity goals, including legacy and structurally complex old growth habitats.

Basal Area:

Basal area is the cross-sectional area of trees at breast height (4.5 ft above ground). It is a common way to describe stand density of forests, usually expressed per acre.

Beneficial Fire:

Beneficial fire is a term used to collectively refer to prescribed fire, cultural burning, and fire managed for resource benefit.

Collaborative:

Our Board is a collaborative of activists who were traditionally adversaries in the Western Oregon forestry controversies. Our goal is to collect a large network of Friends with a similarly wide range of outlooks who support our principles and our approach, and to develop broadly supported policy on how O&C Lands should be managed in Western Oregon.

The name “Forest Bridges” and our logo are intended to symbolize this coming together to bring to life a shared vision of long-term forest habitat health, for the benefit of all.

Co-Management:

Co-Management describes arrangements to manage natural resources with shared authority and responsibility. While treaty rights, legislation and other legal mechanisms have fostered such arrangements, co-management is more generally the result of extensive deliberation and negotiation to jointly make decisions and solve problems. (Eisenberg, et al. 2024)

Co-Stewardship:

Co-Stewardship in the US, refers to a broad range of working relationships between the federal government and Indigenous Peoples exercising the delegated authority of federally recognized Tribes. Co-stewardship can include co-management, collaborative and cooperative management, and Tribally led stewardship, and can be implemented through cooperative agreements, memoranda of understanding, self-governance agreements, and other mechanisms. (Eisenberg, et al. 2024)

Cultural Burning:

“Cultural burning refers to the Indigenous practice of “the intentional lighting of smaller, controlled fires to provide a desired cultural service, such as promoting the health of vegetation and animals that provide food, clothing, ceremonial items and more” (Roos 2020). According to Frank Kanawha Lake, a research ecologist with the USDA Forest Service, and a wildland firefighter of Karuk descent, “[Cultural burning] links back to the tribal philosophy of fire as medicine. When you prescribe it, you’re getting the right dose to maintain the abundance of productivity of all ecosystem services to support the ecology in your culture” (Roos 2020).

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fire/indigenous-fire-practices-shape-our-land.htm

Dry, Moist and Transitional forests:

Dry Forests: Dry forests are generally found in Southwestern Oregon, with the exception of the far southwestern corner. In a dry forest, the forest floor tends to dry out completely in the summer, and frequent fires, every 5-15 years were a natural occurrence in precolonial times. These low-intensity ground fires reduce the presence of dry fuels. Without programs like this for fuel reduction, these fuels increase and create the heat that promotes fires that burn hot enough to destroy whole forests, including green live trees and forest soils


Moist Forests: Moist forests are found more in Northwest Oregon (except in the far northwest corner) and along the Oregon Coast Range. In moist forests, the precipitation is higher, understory vegetation is denser, the forest floor is heavily shaded and remains moist or wet in typical summer conditions. Fires in these forests only happen under extremely dry conditions (every 100-300 years) and are much less frequent but more extreme, due to higher fuel loads. Moist forests require metered variable retention harvests to set the forest up for an array of habitat types aligned with the precolonial condition, as well as certain fuel mitigation.

Transitional Forests: These forests are intermediate in geographic location, moisture, directions of slope facing (aspect) and other factors between the dry and moist forests. They have a broad range of habitat types in close proximity. They behave like dry forests in severe fire conditions and many areas need thinning and fuel reduction treatments to mimic a less frequent lower severity fire pattern than moist forests, measured in decades rather than years. Stands facing north or east are more likely appropriate for moist forest treatment, while those facing west and south usually require a dry forest treatment approach, based on site specific characteristics, including moisture, lighting patterns, etc. These transitional areas will require special management planning, determined by professional agency personnel who evaluate each site, to mimic historical habitat patterns in the absence of fire.  

Early seral forests and Pre-forests:

Early Seral are the earliest stage forests after a burn or variable retention harvest that contain conifers and other tree seedlings from a combination of natural and planted trees (see paragraph below). Pre-forests are defined here as early seral forests that are generally devoid of conifer or other tree seedlings, often the result of stand replacement fires or areas that did not have trees in recent or past history. Early seral habitats are unique and necessary habitats in all forest types across the O&C Lands, and require regular renewal, as closing canopies of trees suppress the early seral vegetation.


Swanson et al. (2011) describe naturally regenerating early seral and pre-forest communities that are unique in being co-dominated by a wide range of plant forms including broadleaf shrubs and vines, hardwood and coniferous trees, herbs and grasses, and are accompanied by the living and dead woody legacies of the pre-disturbance stand. Source: https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/document?repid=rep1&type=pdf&doi=63d3f22c4c0095a440ae194786e65ed135cafb92 

Pre-forest conditions arise from stand replacement fire effects of 90+ percent mortality – absent reforestation – where the forest is devoid of tree species regenerating from seed sources or replanting.

Ecocultural restoration:

Ecocultural restoration is the process of restoring climate- and wildfire-adapted ecosystem structure, composition, and processes, and the Indigenous cultural practices that helped shape them over deep time. Braiding together WS with IK restores the practice of place-based stewardship and reconnecting people to place. IK will need to be applied in a way that recognizes current distorted, novel conditions created by a century of western management, fire suppression, and cessation of management. (Eisenberg, et al. 2024)

Ecocultural Forestry & Ecological Silviculture:

Ecological Forestry and Ecological Silviculture (ES) Methods:

Forest Bridges bases much of its Active Conservation Management proposals for the dry, moist and transitional O&C Lands on ecological forestry tenets and ecological silviculture methods. Ecological Forestry applies an understanding of the structure, function, and dynamics of natural forest ecosystems to achieve integrated environmental, economic, and social outcomes (Spies 2009); (Franklin 2018); (Palik, D’Amato Anthony W and Johnson 2021). Ecological silviculture as an approach manages forests, including trees, associated organisms, and ecological functions, based on emulation of natural models of development. (Palik, D’Amato Anthony W and Johnson 2021); (Palik & D’Amato / Wheeler 2024).

Ecological silviculture:

 Values the full array of structures, functions, and species found in a healthy forest ecosystem.

 ES builds from an understanding of the impact of natural disturbances and forest development to arrive at silvicultural systems that generate and maintain structural complexity and heterogeneity in ecosystem attributes.

 To achieve those outcomes, ES recommends regeneration harvests (and/or variable density thinning depending upon forest type and site criteria and management objectives) patterned after the prevailing natural disturbance regime for an ecosystem, including their scale, severity, and frequency.

 ES also emphasizes the importance of native species and accounting for the legacies from disturbances, namely surviving trees, and coarse woody material (e.g., snags and downed wood) -- placing equal emphasis on what is left behind relative to what is removed at each silvicultural intervention.


While economic objectives are still a priority with ecological silviculture, those associated with ecosystem diversity and resilience are given high priority in the design and implementation of ecological silvicultural systems. (Palik, D’Amato Anthony W and Johnson 2021)

Ecological Restoration:

Ecological restoration is the process of “assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed” (Gann et al. 2019). It involves uniting scientific inquiry with on-the-ground practice while understanding that landscapes are dynamic and ever-changing. The Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) has developed nine attributes that are helpful for guiding restoration objectives (SER 2004):


  1. Plant assemblages should resemble historical reference conditions.
  2. Species should be mostly or all native within a reasonable period of historical time.
  3. A restored ecosystem should include all main functional groups of plants. 
  4. It should be able to reproduce new cohorts. 
  5. It should be on a historically appropriate trajectory of growth and change. 
  6. It should be integrated into a larger functioning landscape matrix. 
  7. It should be secured from “threats” originating from off site. 
  8. It should be resilient (e.g., able to return to a pre-disturbance state). 
  9. It should be self-sustaining within normal ranges of fluctuation. 
Fire exclusion and canopy closure:

Dry mixed-conifer forests in southwestern Oregon have been altered by 200 years of colonial settlement and fire suppression that have resulted in ahistorical stand densification, including of shade-tolerant species like white fir and grand fir (Sensenig et al. 2013). Outcomes are at least three-fold (Franklin & Johnson 2012): 


  1. Many fewer old, fire-resistant trees are on the landscape. 
  2. Drought conditions are exacerbated with too many trees per acre competing for water.
  3. Forests are now highly susceptible to stand-replacing wildfire and insect epidemics due to elevated fuel levels. 
Fire Resilience:

The measure of a forest’s ability to regenerate and adapt after a fire passes through. 

Fire Resistance:

The ability of a forest to withstand a fire entering and survive.  A fire-resistant forest has characteristics that make crown fires unlikely and allow the forest to survive surface fire without significant tree mortality in the main canopy. 

Historical:

Forest Bridges uses the term “historical” to describe forest types, patterns, densities, and disturbance regimes throughout our work. This usually refers to landscape patterns that existed before European colonization (in the 18th century) and widespread fire suppression (in the early 20th century). 

Indigenous Knowledge (IK):

Indigenous knowledge is a body of observations, oral and written knowledge, innovations, practices, and beliefs developed by Tribes and Indigenous Peoples through interaction and experience with the environment. It is applied to phenomena across biological, physical, social, cultural, and spiritual systems.12 Indigenous Knowledge can be developed over millennia, continues to develop, and includes understanding based on evidence acquired through direct contact with the environment and long-term experiences, as well as extensive observations, lessons, and skills passed from generation to generation.

Large legacy trees:

Old-growth trees are the “structural backbone” of forest ecosystems and should be prioritized for protection and restoration wherever they occur–especially in dry forests (Hagmann et al. 2013). This generally applies to trees older than 150 years, but removal of large trees may be considered in the rare circumstances that ecological goals may be better accomplished. For example, large grand firs may be harvested because they could pose a fire risk to adjacent, favored species like ponderosa pine and oak (in addition to being overrepresented in most dry forest stands because of fire suppression). Similarly, overstocked even-aged stands with continuous and large live crowns may need to be thinned to prevent drought stress, fire risk, and bark beetle infestations (North et al. 2009). In this way, thinning decisions are made according to broad, landscape-scale resilience and ecological function rather than imposed by strict diameter limits. 

Multiaged management:

Multiaged management is the maintenance of forest stands in two or more different age classes as an alternative to even-aged silviculture. It represents an effort to emulate more accurately the complexity and heterogeneity found in unmanaged stands while also providing timber products and sustaining thriving wildlife habitats. Multiaged stands also may be an adaptive management strategy for a changing climate and disturbance regimes because resilience is conferred through more complex forest systems. 

O&C Act of 1937:

This is a Federal Law, also described in the Frequently Asked Questions (provide a link to the Act within our website). The full title of the Act is, “The revested Oregon and California Railroad and reconveyed Coos bay Wagon Road grant lands situated in the State of Oregon.”

O&C lands (small “l”):

This term refers to the Oregon and California Railroad lands. The O&C lands include about 2.6 million acres. These lands are located across the 18 Western Oregon counties. (Click HERE for a Map) Originally, these lands were deeded as private lands to railroad companies in 1866 to encourage the development of a rail line across Oregon and to encourage settlement. Portions of land were sold to settlers to raise money, the railroads were built, but eventually, the lands were revested to the Federal Government by Congress with the intent to privatize. Under the O&C Act of 1937, the BLM was tasked with managing the lands under what were considered progressive, conservation-oriented, and sustained yield timber harvest practices, with a portion of revenues going to the 18 counties of Western Oregon as O&C County Receipts. 

O&C Lands (With a capital “L”):

This term, as used by Forest Bridges, refers to approximately 3 million acres of federally managed lands that comprise: the Oregon and California Railroad (O&C) lands, managed by both the BLM and US Forest service, as well as Public Domain and Coos Bay Wagon Road lands managed by the BLM. The O&C lands managed by the US Forest Service are referred to as “controverted lands,” and are governed by somewhat different overlays of regulations. The Public Domain lands are guided by a different funding formula than the O&C Act lands.

Place-based Reciprocal Stewardship:

An ethical value that grounds planning and management practice and applies that value to place-based stewardship of nature, the economy, health, cultural resources, property, and information. Indigenous Peoples and their cultural practices exemplify place-based reciprocal stewardship. Their approach emphasizes learning by doing and local connection of people to the places that sustain them and are sustained by them. Practices include intentional burning, forest thinning, other fuel reduction treatments, pest and postfire management, and seed collecting of native species to assist forest community regeneration. (Eisenberg, et al. 2024)

Principles of Agreement (PoAs):

The PoA are a compilation of collaboratively supported concepts intended to comprehensively highlight and address a full suite of major issues faced by the managing agencies of the O&C Lands. With comprehensive resolution, issues solved in one respect will be less likely to re-emerge in another.

Reciprocity:

Taking from the land with the moral responsibility of giving back in equal measure. RECIPROCITY is both fundamental awareness and action in response to awareness that humans and ecosystems have shared needs. It involves attention to mutually beneficial relationships between stewards and the land, plants, and animals they live among and rely on. In reciprocal culture, people have strong connection to a place and a moral responsibility to care for that place and its

living beings. (Eisenberg, et al. 2024)

Relative density:

Relative density indicates how fully the trees occupy a site. It is a measure of the number and average size of trees growing in a stand compared to the maximum possible that the site could support (a biological limitation).

Rethinking Protection (a Forest Bridges term):

Instead of simply drawing lines on a map to create various reserves of unmanaged or minimally managed areas, we are using a whole-land-base, long-range, active conservation approach based on scientific evidence, professional agency experience, Indigenous wisdom and historic practices and forest policy tailored to 21st century issues, resulting in improved forest health and species habitats. Harvests will not be based on diameter limits and age limits but instead seek similar result in a historical mix of stand diversity, always retaining a legacy of unmanaged and minimally managed areas on O&C lands.

Sustainability Funds:

(See Frequently asked Question, “Where will funds needed to support Forest Bridges’ new management programs come from?”)

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK):

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is the on-going accumulation of knowledge, practice and belief about relationships between living beings in a specific ecosystem that is acquired by indigenous people over hundreds or thousands of years through direct contact with the environment, handed down through generations, and used for life-sustaining ways. This knowledge includes the relationships between people, plants, animals, natural phenomena, landscapes, and timing of events for activities such as hunting, fishing, trapping, agriculture, and forestry. It encompasses the world view of a people, which includes ecology, spirituality, human and animal relationships, and more. TEK is also called other names, such as Indigenous Knowledge, Native Science.

Indigenous peoples as well as non-Indigenous peoples who are long-term (hundreds of years) local residents, e.g., Appalachian communities, Spanish land grant communities, can also provide TEK.

TEK is different from user knowledge and local knowledge. User knowledge is one person's experience over a lifetime or less. Local knowledge is more than one person's experience aggregated, showing a trajectory, but not yet time tested. Individual users sharing knowledge with other local users and elders, and then time-testing this new knowledge is part of the evaluation and validation process for TEK. (Charles 2020)

Western Science (WS):

Western science is objective and quantitative as opposed to traditional knowledge, which is mainly subjective and qualitative. Western science is based on an academic and literate transmission, while traditional knowledge is often passed on orally from one generation to the next by the elders. Western science isolates its objects of study from their vital context by putting them in simplified and controllable experimental environments—which also means that scientists separate themselves from nature, the object of their studies;-by contrast, traditional knowledge always depends on its context and particular local conditions (Nakashima DJ 2002).

Wildfires, Megafires and Gigafires:

Western Oregon forests are overloaded with fuels after more than 100 years of focus on putting fires out and Smokey Bear, who gained notoriety after being rescued from a 1944 wildfire. Wildfires can be small, or they can burn very hot and become very large and damaging, measured in tens of thousands of acres across BLM and private lands together where the typical ownership size in the O&C Lands checkerboard is 640 acres. “Megafires” is a new term applying to fires, or complexes of fires that converge, and the total exceeds 100,000 acres, which is much more common today than historically.

“Gigafires” is also a new term to describe wildfires that exceed 1 million acres. All of these fires NOT ONLY cause extreme economic damage, but soil is irreparably damaged, habitats are destroyed, excessive carbon is released into the atmosphere, and water quality, lives, and property are placed at risk.

Policy to put all fires out started around 1915 after the great burns of 1910 which burned 3 million acres and 87 lives were lost. Smokey Bear got his start in 1944 after a bear cub was rescued from a wildfire and nursed back to health, amid a lot of publicity.

References:

-Charles, Cheryl & Gregory A. Cajete. 2020. "Wisdom Traditions, Science and Care for the Earth: Pathways to Responsible Action." Ecopsychology 12.

- Eisenberg, Cristina, Susan Prichard, Michael Paul Nelson, and Paul Hessburg. 2024. Braiding Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science for Climate-Adapted Forests. An Ecocultural State of Science Report, Seattle: University of Washington.

-Franklin, J. F. 2012. "A Restoration Framework for Federal Forests in the Pacific Northwest." Journal of Forestry 429-439.

—. 2018. Ecological Forest Management. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

-Gann, G.D., McDonald, T., Walder, B., Aronson, J., Nelson, C.R., Jonson, J., Hallett, J.G., Eisenberg, C., Guariguata, M.R., Liu, J., Hua, F., Echeverría, C., Gonzales, E., Shaw, N., Decleer, K. and Dixon, K.W. 2019. "International principles and standards for the practice of ecological restoration. Second edition." Restoration Ecology S1-S46.

-Hagmann, R.K., Franklin, J.F., Johnson, K.N. 2013. "Historical structure and composition of ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forests in south-central Oregon." Forest Ecology Management 492-504.

-Nakashima DJ, Roué M. 2002. "Indigenous knowledge, peoples and sustainable practice." In Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change. 5: Social and Economic Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, by P Timmerman, 314-324. Chichester, UK: Wiley.

-North, M.P., Stine, P., O’Hara, K.L., Zielinski, W.J., Stephens, S.L. 2009. An ecosystem management strategy for sierran mixed-conifer forests. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report, Albany, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station.

-Palik & D’Amato / Wheeler, Abraham, Franklin, Jerry F., & Wessell, Stephanie J. 2024. "Chapter 1, The Context of Ecological Silviculture / Chapter 4, Ecological Silviculture in Douglas-fir—Western Hemlock Ecosystems." In Ecological Silvicultural Systems: Exemplary Models for Sustainable Forest Management, by B. & D’Amato Anthony Palik, pp. 1-10 / pp. 40-51. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

-Palik, B. D., Franklin, Jerry F. D’Amato Anthony W, and Norman K. Johnson. 2021. "Ecological Silviculture Foundations and Applications." 3-13; 21-35; 93-98; 124-127. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

-Restoration, Society for Ecological. 2024. SER Documents. January. Accessed May 28, 2024. https://www.ser.org/page/SERDocuments.

-Roos, Dave. 2020. Native Americans Used Fire to Protect and Cultivate Land. Accessed May 28, 2024. https://www.history.com/news/native-american-wildfires.

-Sensenig, T. B. 2013. "Stand development, fire and growth of old-growth and young forests in southwestern Oregon, USA." Forest Ecology and Management 96-109.

-Spies, T. 2009. "Conserving Old Growth in a New World." In Old Growth in a New World: A Pacific Northwest Icon Reexamined, by T. Spies, 313-326. Washington, DC: Island Press.

-Swanson, M.E., Franklin, J.F., Beschta, R.I., Crisafulli, C.M., DellaSala, D.A., Hutto, R.I., Lindenmayer, D.B., Swanson, F.J. 2011. "The forgotten stage of forest succession; early-successional ecosystems on forest sites." 117-125.

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