Blue Mountains restoration strategy

Posted by Renee Magyar on August 21, 2013

Forest Service announces projects in new approach to collaborative restoration

Walton Lake, Ochoco National Forest. Photo credit: US Forest Service

Forest Service "Blues Strategy" announcement

In July 2013, members of five forest collaborative groups met in Baker City, Oregon to discuss a new approach by the Forest Service to increase the pace and scale of restoration. The goal of this approach is to identify how the agency can change the way they plan and implement projects in the forest to achieve more of its ecological, economic and social goals.

The national forests included in this 'Blues Strategy' include the Ochoco, Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa Whitman, all of which are located in northeastern Oregon. Each of these national forests have at least one forest collaborative where people with diverse perspectives on forest management work together to find common ground on how to manage the forests. With input from the forest collaborative groups, the Forest Service chose the following projects:

1) Dry Forest Restoration - this project is a large scale project focusing on restoring fire-adapted forests wherever they occur across the four national forests. This project builds on the working agreements being developed (or already in place) for several of the collaboratives, and due to the scale of the project, the Forest Service has built in time for data collection and analysis. A final project decision is planned for December 2016.

2) Strategic Fuel Treatments - this project implements a system of shaded fuel breaks along strategically located roads that could be used to contain wildfires and manage large-scale prescribed fires across all four National Forests. Fuel break width, intensity and type of treatment would vary depending on fuel type, slope, aspect, etc., and once in place, the fuel breaks could result in safer, less expensive, and potentially larger restorative fires. We estimate this project, fully implemented, would treat 150-250,000 acres in the Blue Mountains. A final project decision is planned in December 2015.

3) Lower Joseph Canyon - building on the work of the Wallowa County Natural Resources Advisory Committee (NRAC), this project would work with the NRAC to complete the NEPA for a comprehensive suite of land restoration projects in the 90,000 acre Lower Joseph project area on the north end of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. A final project decision is planned for December 2014.

For more information on the Forest Service's Blue Mountains Restoration Strategy and how it fits into their larger Eastside Restoration Strategy, visit their website. In addition, a briefing paper from the Forest Service on the Blues Strategy selections can be found in the Downloads section below.

Information and resources on the forest collaboratives

The five forest collaborative groups presented  on their history, their achievements, and the national forest projects they are working on with the Forest Service. 

The forest collaboratives involved in the Blues Strategy have characteristics that are unique to the forests and communities where they meet. All of the collaborative groups have diverse stakeholders from conservationists to loggers and everyone in between. Below are links to the collaboratives' websites and presentations tell the history of each collaborative group, what they are working on, and their recent successes.

Ochoco National Forest:

Ochoco Forest Restoration Collaborative website and presentation below

Malheur National Forest:

Blue Mountains Forest Partners website and presentation below

Harney County Restoration Collaborative website

Umatilla National Forest:

Umatilla Forest Collaborative Group website and presentation below

Wallowa Whitman National Forest:

Wallowa Whitman Forest Collaborative website and presentation below