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Collaboration on the Coast

Posted by Renee Magyar on June 23, 2014

Patrick Shannon recounts his first collaborative meeting on the “wet” side of Oregon

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It seemed like a familiar scene to me. I’'m in a large group of people sitting in a circle looking at maps and talking about the importance of forest restoration and jobs in the community. But this meeting is different. For 20 years Sustainable Northwest has worked with communities primarily in the “dry forested” areas of eastern Oregon, Washington, California and Idaho. Instead of seeing mountains and forests in every direction, when I look out over the heads of the people peering at maps, I see sunshine reflecting off of the Pacific Ocean. This is a different community – I’m on the south coast of Oregon.  

The south coast is a spectacular place where clean, opal-green rivers flow out of temperate rainforest of the Siskiyou Mountains. The rivers are renowned for their abundance of salmon and steelhead that migrate up into the mountains to spawn, and the forests are known for their ability to grow large trees and have very high levels of biodiversity. 

There are also small but important communities at the interface of the forest and the ocean, with residents who have made a living off of the land for generations. The people are friendly, and are “of place,” meaning they live lifestyles that reflect their surroundings. There are commercial fishermen and fishing guides, foresters and loggers, and people who recreate in different ways across this great landscape. 

But like many rural communities that depend on natural resources, they have come across hard times. Management on federal forests has dropped significantly since the listing of the northern spotted owl as a threatened species, and the implementation of the Northwest Forest plan. These have had a significant impact on the county’s traditional economy.

While there are differences and similarities between eastern Oregon and the south coast of Oregon the same concept applies – we’re there to find a new way forward. Sustainable Northwest is pleased to be broadening our geographic scope to help the people in this region. Together we will find collaborative solutions for healthy working forests that support a variety of species, provide opportunities for recreation, and create local jobs.

Patrick Shannon is Sustainable Northwest’'s Forest Program Director.