Projects and Stories

The Dry Forest Zone

With our partners, we are developing and sharing solutions that create family wage jobs, restore ecosystems, and increase energy independence throughout the region.


In 2009, with a 5-year $2.5 million combined seed commitment from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and USDA Rural Development, an innovative and collaborative initiative was launched across eastern Oregon and northern California to increase the resilience of its landscapes and the renewed prosperity of its people.

For years, this region has been plagued with declining forest health, poor timber market conditions, and high levels of poverty and unemployment.

The Dry Forest Zone initiative brings a diverse group of local and regional partners together to develop and share solutions that create family wage jobs, restore ecosystems, and increase energy independence throughout the region.

Learn more about the program by visiting the Dry Forest Zone Resources page.

The zone comprises 15 counties with predominantly dry pine and mixed conifer forests, of which 68% are federally managed public land. Almost all of these forests are overstocked and at severe risk of fire and drought. Local communities are all in close proximity to national forest lands and therefore very dependent upon them. Over the last two decades the region has faced conflict over how to restore forest health, and has lost much of its human talent and timber processing infrastructure, leading to high levels of poverty and unemployment.

We've already seen tremendous success from our four-part strategy to achieve the following:

  • Create multiple value streams that support sustainable forest stewardship
  • Develop integrated woody biomass utilization and renewable energy infrastructure

  • Build community, business, and organizational capacity to grow and replicate results
  • Affect public and market-based policy to create the conditions for success

The DFZ initiative has measurably increased local entrepreneurship, collaboration, and commitment to integrated economic development and natural resource management. In the past decade - but especially in the last five years - there has been a marked increase in the scope of community-based efforts (mostly nonprofits), integrated biomass utilization businesses, and new social networks that enable collaboration and shared learning and action. The promise of a more regenerative, durable forest economy is now in sight if commitment to shared purpose, innovation, and investment in human, financial, and ecological capital can be increased and sustained.

Our approach is to work directly with communities and local leaders to address critical natural resource challenges. We design solutions that increase the health of the region's landscapes and the strength of its communities. We listen, learn, build trust, and are invested in the long-term success of the communities in the zone. Solutions are drawn from local and scientific knowledge and are crafted in collaboration with diverse groups that work together to promote innovation in small business, local renewable energy, and natural resource management.

Our core partners on this effort include; Wallowa Resources in Enterprise, OR The Watershed Research and Training Center in Hayfork, CA, and the Ecosystem Workforce Program at the University of Oregon in Eugene, OR.