Oregon Solutions recently released the Federal Forest Dashboard Project that provides a "dashboard" approach to tracking management and restoration of Oregon's 30 million+ acres of federal forestland.
The Dashboard provides indicators for six national forests in eastern Oregon. A recent assessment estimated that nearly 45% or 1.4 million acres of the forestland available for active management on these six forests needs restoration thinning and the application of prescribed fire to improve resiliency, prevent disease, and protect water resources and wildlife habitat.
The Dashboard focuses broadly on management and restoration efforts that result from the combined federal, state, private and non-profit investments in Oregon's federal forests. In the easy-to-read format, the Dashboard presents clear graphics and "takeaways" that are intended to provide valuable insights about the collaborative, landscape-scale efforts taking place in eastern Oregon.
A few of the takeaways from the report include:
- Stewardship contracts have become more common than traditional timber sales in eastern Oregon.
- A goal for collaboration is more restoration projects implemented on more acres.
- The volume of timber sold from eastern Oregon national forests has been consistently increasing from a low in 2013.
- An average of 17,000 acres burn at high severity each year.
- Four of the five most severe fire seasons since 1984 have occurred in the past 14 years.
- More acres are burning at moderate and high severity in recent years.
- The total annual average of acres with signed NEPA decisions was 45% greater between 2012 and 2015 than between 2009 and 2011.
- Since 2009, 48% of acres with signed NEPA decisions have incorporated input from local collaborative groups.
- The US Forest Service tends to work with collaborative groups on larger planning projects.
While the Dashboard suggests there is not a good way to describe project outcomes in terms of forest health and resiliency just yet, we know that stakeholders in eastern Oregon are moving the needle toward resiliency by implementing collaborative Cohesive Strategy behaviors that will likely result in good outcomes when tested during wildland fires.