Seminar shines spotlight on Malheur restoration efforts

JOHN DAY – Local foresters and land managers went into export mode last week, providing lessons in restoration and collaboration to a contingent of visitors who will take the information home to 14 foreign countries.

The visitors were in Grant County May 6-8 as part of the International Seminar on Forest Landscape Restoration. The seminar began April 27 with programs and coursework in Portland, followed by a field trip to Bend and then John Day.

The group leaves Portland for home this Wednesday.

In Grant County, they visited the Camp Creek restoration area, the Marshall Devine restoration and harvest project, and the Oxbow Conservation Area.

The latter, owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, gave them a closeup look at a major river relocation project, one that includes a stretch of relocated channel and extensive work to recover mine tailing fields.

It was an eye-opener for many of the 19 participants, described as mid-career land managers from nations including Malawi, China, Brazil and Philippines.

“We don’t have this kind of restoration,” said Silvia Lopez, a biologist from Guatemala, noting the extensive work at the Oxbow.

While some parts of the project looked too costly for projects back home, she said, she felt there were good ideas to take back and try. She said much of the challenge in her area is coping with impacts from intensive agriculture and also the loss of habitat to commercial uses and housing.

Samuel Kofi Nyame, a participant from Ghana, said the tour offered good information about “the basic principles of restoration – These are things we can take home.”

He was intrigued by the collaborative effort of many of the projects, and felt it would help to involve “the people outside the bureaus” in the work.

“These are very beautiful results to see,” he said. He was particularly impressed by “the commitment and the passion” for restoration, and hopes to take that back.

At the Oxbow, Tribes restoration ecologist Brian Cochran fielded wide-ranging questions about river hydrology, project engineering, vegetation and deer fencing, tribal concerns, partnerships, and steelhead recovery.

He stressed the science and engineering that have gone into the project – and also the fact that with intensive monitoring on the Middle Fork, “there’s a lot of science coming out of this river.”

The seminar is sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service International Programs, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and the World Resources Institute.

Lindsay Buchanan, a collaborative landscape restoration program coordinator from the Forest Service’s Washington, D.C., office, said the aim is to give participants tools for assessing and implementing landscape restoration plans and fostering collaboratives, as well as opportunities to network with other professionals.

Oregon was selected as an ideal place to learn about innovative approaches to forest landscape restoration in an area featuring diverse ecosystems and resource uses.

It was the first time the program has visited this area, but Buchanan said it likely will return with a new group of participants next year.

The Malheur Forest was spotlighted in part because it is home to the Southern Blues Restoration Coalition, one of 23 forest landscape restoration projects selected for the Forest Services’s Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program.

Malheur Forest Supervisor Steve Beverlin said it was a wonderful opportunity for the Malheur and its community partners “to showcase the integration of resource resilience and community stability.”

Scotta Callister

Blue Mountain Eagle

Published: May 12, 2015 3:53PM;