Lakeview Stewardship Group – Where Forest Collaboration Got its Start in Lake County
The Lakeview Stewardship Group has as its goal “a sustainable forest that will ensure quality of life for present and future generations.” It works to achieve that goal through the incorporation of restoration and community values in the management of the Lakeview Federal Stewardship Unit (LFSU).
Cultivating Common Ground – The Story of the Lakeview Stewardship Group
“Like many other western rural communities, Lake County has been affected by shrinking timber supplies on federal lands, ” said Jane O’Keeffe, Chair Sustainable Northwest and LCRI board member. “What’s different here is the collaborative effort to redefine our land management goals in a way that nurtures and sustains the special relationship this community has with the national forest. I think it could become a successful model for other places that are looking for ways to restore forest health and create local jobs.”
Location: Lakeview Federal Stewardship Unit (495,000 acres) of the Fremont-Winema National Forest, Lake County, Oregon.
Participants: The Collins Companies, Concerned Friends of the Fremont-Winema, Defenders of Wildlife, Fremont-Winema National Forest, Lake County Chamber of Commerce, Lake County Resources Initiative, Lakeview High School, Lakeview Ranger District, Oregon Department of Economic and Community Development, Oregon Wild, Paisley Ranger District, Sustainable Northwest, The Nature Conservancy, The Wilderness Society, and local citizens.
History: The Lakeview Stewardship Group (LSG) collaboration began in 1998 to develop a strategy for sustainable forest
management of the 500,000-acre Lakeview Federal Sustained Yield Unit (the Unit) in the Fremont-Winema National Forest in southern Oregon.
Established in 1950, the Unit had a single goal- providing a steady supply of timber for local mills. However, by the late 1990s, federal timber sales had plummeted, and all but one mill had closed. In the summer of 1998, with the assistance of Sustainable Northwest, community leaders brought together conservationists, business interests, scientists, timber workers and other local residents to plan for the future of the Unit and the community. Convening as the Lakeview Stewardship Group (LSG), the participants commissioned a third-party review of the Unit’s operations and, after studying the results, collaboratively developed and proposed a new, restoration-based management approach.
Accomplishments: According to participants, the hard work, honesty, and respect developed among the LSG participants have been rewarded by tangible achievements:
- The Forest Service responded positively, and in 2001, it re-designated the Unit as the Lakeview Federal Stewardship Unit (LFSU).
- In 2002, the Lake County Resources Initiative (LCRI), a non-profit corporation, was formed to promote local workforce training and sustainable forest management.
- A biomass utilization feasibility study was completed in 2004.
- The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) used the proposed Lakeview Biomass Project (LBP) as the basis of a pilot test of the Coordinated Resource Offering Protocol (CROP). CROP is designed to assess how biomass removal from federal land-dominated landscapes can be coordinated among agencies, hopefully giving potential investors in biomass facilities greater confidence in the availability of adequate raw material supplies over the long-term. The LBP CROP report was completed in 2005.
- In late 2007, the Collins Companies opened a $6.8 million small diameter sawmill in Lakeview which can process logs less than 10 inches in diameter, an essential capacity to enable a viable restoration program. The mill processes material from the Collins’ own FSC-certified Lakeview Forest, as well as logs from other private landowners and national forest and BLM lands.
- A year later, Collins was awarded a 10-year Forest Service stewardship contract for restoration work in the LFSU.
- LCRI and the Collins Companies are currently working with Iberdrola Renewables to develop the Lakeview Biomass Plant. The estimated $90-million facility will produce 26.9 MW and employ 20 people at the plant and 50-80 in the woods.
- Currently the Forest Service and Stewardship Group successfully completed a Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act (CFLRA) proposal that will provide an additional $3.5 million in restoration work over the next 9 years. A big part of this successful proposal was the Long-range Strategy for the Lakeview Federal Stewardship Unit. The strategy was completed in 2005 and updated in 2010 and 2011. Before the CFLRA award the amount of forest treatments were insufficient to get ahead of the forest health problems. The CFLRA allows us to get the treatments on the ground necessary to restore natural functions in the forest.
For a nice concise and printable write-up about the Lakeview Stewardship Group see the Lakeview Story.
Update on the Federal Forest Health Program: February 2, 2015
In 2015-2017, ODF proposes establishing a Federal Forest Health Program to invest $6.05 million for expanding inital restoration work statewide, supporting local collaborative groups that demonstrate results and readiness, and acting on the Good Neighbor Authority granted in the 2014 Farm Bill. This provision allows the USFS and the Bureau of Land Management to authorize state foresters to implement forest management activities on federal forestlands. This 2015-2017 investment would:
- Boost collaboration statewide: Provide grants and contracts for forest collaborative work to enhance capacity, provide technical assistance, and provide new data for planning and on-theground projects. The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) will continue as ODF’s implementing partner for collaborative grants.
- Use the Good Neighbor Agreement Plan to increase projects: Fund both seasonal and permanent ODF staff as implementation partners for setting restoration projects in motion, and ensure return on state investment (7.6 full-time equivalent positions). Contracts would test innovative efficiencies and best practices to complete required environmental analysis.
- Ensure success: Less than 10% of funds would be spent on administration. These funds would connect statewide efforts and provide ODF capacity to develop agreements, oversee contracts, and monitor results. A small portion of the package would provide similar capacity to OWEB.
- Set results-focused targets for 2015-2017: State investment would provide additional capacity to the Federal Forest Health Program to evaluate progress and set targets, including establishment of statewide goals; increasing economic impact (e.g. jobs and economic support) from restoration work; increasing timber volume sold and under contract; increasing habitat quality and watershed health; and leveraging additional federal investment and process efficiencies.
Read the whole document here: 2015 ODF Federal Forest_Leave Behind