Grant dollars boost NE Oregon forest industry

John Buckman
Oregon Department of Forestry

A $2.2 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant was awarded recently to the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act). The funds will put previously idled workers back to work conducting non-commercial thinning operations on more than 3,000 acres of private forestland in ODF’s Northeast Oregon District. In total, the grant is expected to create approximately 40 to 50 direct jobs.

“These Recovery Act funds are a welcome relief for an area of the state hit hard by these economic times,” said Gov. Kulongoski. “With these funds, Oregonians will be able to get back to work and the health of our forests will be improved.”

Opening up the overcrowded stands of small-diameter trees will improve the overall growth and vigor of the forest, reduce the risk of damaging wildfire, and increase resistance to insects and disease as well as stress caused by drought.

“This grant is not a substitute for a robust forest economy but will serve as a needed operational bridge for some operators until better times return in the industry,” said District Forester John Buckman.

The influx of funds will enable forest landowners and operators, in partnership with ODF, to implement good forest practices that include proper management of young tree stands at a time when such treatments would otherwise be prohibitively expensive.

“The depressed lumber market has been preventing landowners from conducting these needed treatments,” Buckman said.

The grant will also pump dollars into numerous area businesses that provide direct and indirect support to the forest industry. The trickle-down effect is vitally important in rural communities dependent to a large extent on a natural resource-based economy, the forester said.

For more information on the northeast Oregon forest health grant, contact ODF’s Northeast Oregon District office, phone 541-963-3168, located at 611 20th St. in La Grande.

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