Resilience, defined

Posted by Renee Magyar on November 28, 2012

Resilience: what it means to a collaborative forest restoration effort

Patrick Shannon facilitates a collaborative discussion on the Malheur National Forest

Resilience. This single word has defined multiple goals for those of us working to restore landscapes and create economic opportunity in Grant County, Oregon.

In our work with the Blue Mountains Forest Partners, a forest collaborative we helped start in 2006, one goal is to influence forest management on the Malheur National Forest so the ecosystem can become more resilient. Another goal is to create enough forest restoration projects on the Malheur to sustain a steady, predictable supply of logs, to help the local industry and economy to be more resilient to fluctuations typical of past management.

The strength of the collaborative process and the Blue Mountains Forest Partners was tested this summer when it was announced that Malheur Lumber Company, the last remaining sawmill in Grant County would close its doors. The economic impact of the mill closure would be disastrous, not just for the 70 mill workers, but for the vendors, restaurants and associated businesses in the small rural community. In addition, the ability for the Forest Service to complete restoration projects at an affordable rate would dramatically decrease as logs would need to travel further to be processed.

Immediately after the announcement of the closure, an amazing collection of people came together to see what could be done to prevent the mill closure. The same stakeholders involved in the Blue Mountains Forest Partners worked side-by-side with the mill owners and workers to develop short and long-term solutions that the Malheur National Forest could implement to increase the pace of restoration projects and provide an adequate supply of logs for the mill.

With the support of many organizations, companies, and politicians, there is now hope that the mill will remain open and continue to purchase logs from the increased restoration projects on the Malheur National Forest.

This effort to maintain a healthy economy and forest is a direct reflection of the resilience of the collaborative that Sustainable Northwest helped create. We feel confident that the forest collaborative in Grant County is a model for how we can overcome adversity and solve complex natural resource conflicts, now and in the future.

Patrick Shannon is a program officer at Sustainable Northwest and works directly with the Grant County Community and the Blue Mountain Forest Partners.