Projects and Stories

Blue Mountains Forest Partners

A diverse group of local and regional stakeholders is working together for the health of the Malheur National Forest.

Participants share knowledge and expertise to inform collaborative decisions on forest restoration

In 2006, Sustainable Northwest helped establish the Blue Mountains Forest Partners, a forest collaborative in Grant County, Oregon. Since then, the BMFP has evolved into a diverse group of local and regional stakeholders including elected officials, representatives from the forest products sector, local and regional conservation organizations, business owners, landowners, and tribal and federal land management agencies. 

This collaborative group is a member-driven, socially inclusive, volunteer organization that works closely and collaboratively with the staff of the U.S. Forest Service to develop scientifically sound and socially supported forest management recommendations for the Malheur National Forest. 4 major restoration projects have taken place since the inception of the group, improving the sustainability of the National Forest and the adjacent communities. 

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the Malheur National Forest $2.5 million to restore a further 272,000 acres over the next 10 years. The Malheur National Forest was one of only 3 projects selected out of many across the nation, thanks to its successful track record of working with the BMFP.

In August 2012, Malheur Lumber mill in John Day, Oregon announced plans to close operations by November 2012 due to lack of available log supply from the adjacent Malheur National Forest. As the largest private employer in Grant County (80 jobs), this closure would have dealt a devastating blow to the community and severely set back efforts to accomplish forest restoration and economic development in the region that have made significant progress in recent years.

However, in an almost unprecedented case of collaboration, Sustainable Northwest, the Blue Mountains Forest Partners collaborative, Forest Service staff, Malheur Lumber mill leadership, the Oregon Congressional delegation, and conservation groups developed a coordinated strategy to secure a sustainable supply of logs to keep the mill open and operating for the indefinite future. This accomplishment is testament to diverse stakeholder agreement, an emerging culture of collaboration, and willingness to achieve restoration and economic development in the Dry Forest Zone region of Oregon.