Forests and the Economy Symposium 2015

Posted by Renee Magyar on June 3, 2015

It was great to be part of the discussion on May 27.


Up for discussion last week at the Forests and the Economy Symposium hosted by InvestigateWest and the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication was ‘The Missing Middle: Toward a Model of Sustainable Forestry for Oregon’s Private and Public Forestlands’, ‘The Rising Costs of Action (and Inaction) Against Wildfire’, and ‘Lessons from John Day: The Pay-off and Promise of Collaborative Restoration Projects’.

Patrick Shannon, Forest Program Director at Sustainable Northwest shared the ‘Lessons from John Day’ panel with Bruce Daucsavage of Ochoco Lumber, and Susan Jane Brown of Western Environmental Law Center. All are key participants in the Blue Mountains Forest Partners collaborative group that successfully fought to keep the Ochoco Lumber Company mill in John Day open in 2012 when it was at risk of shutting its doors for good. 

The panelists held a lively discussion about the take-aways from the 2012 experience, and strategies for moving forward. The John Day community has been actively in collaboration with the mill and the U.S. Forest Service for 10 years, which enabled a rescue when the mill was slated to close. Bruce Daucsavage kindly shared kudos of Sustainable Northwest’s role, “if it wasn’t for Sustainable Northwest, this wouldn’t have happened.” 

Daucsavage pointed out that mills need to take sound forest science into consideration, and determine how to remain profitable while maintaining good forest health. Collaboration on forest management plays an essential role in connecting the science to the harvest practices. And investing in innovative products made from small wood and restoration and milling by-products – like densified sawdust bricks for fireplaces and woodstoves – can be another step in the right direction toward a sound economy and ecology. 

Stakeholders agree that our federal forest lands need more investment in restoration and active management to support both the local economy and the health of the forest. The Forest Service is more inclined to invest more time and resources when they see collaboratives being really successful, and the Blue Mountains Forest Partners collaborative is a strong example of an ongoing success story. 

Read more about the history of Blue Mountains Forest Partners, and the story of the John Day mill. 

And see coverage of the May 27 event in the Capital Press.