Almost four years since its official launch by Representative Derek Kilmer and nearly two years since the last meeting in Forks, members of the Olympic Forest Collaborative came to tell of accomplishments and seek input on future plans during a public meeting in Forks last Tuesday evening.
A mix of Collaborative members and non-voting members from the Olympic National Forest, Olympic Natural Resources Center and several other entities were facilitated by ONRC and its Director, Dr. Bernard Bormann.
Borman said ONRC will be involved per a mandate and funding from the legislature with several graduate students creating a 2018-19 Stakeholders Survey that seeks information on areas of interest and direction the public would like to see the Forest Collaborative take going forward. Bormann also said that all information collected will be housed at ONRC.”We will be assisting to help collect what is learned and develop a strategy to see if the collaborative is achieving goals within a framework,” Boremann said.
Commissioner Bill Peach spoke about his history in managing forest land and observations on future business opportunities that are socially acceptable and sustainable in how lands will be managed. “We are looking at the concept of community forest,” Peach said.
“We want to do more and build relationships,” Reta Laford Olympic National Forest Supervisor said. The collaborative was implemented through the Northwest Forest Plan and looks to develop and test new management approaches to integrate and achieve ecological and economic health as well as other economic objectives.
Laford said her agencies current emphasis within the restoration framework will treat more acres and increase volume as it builds more relationships using congressional appropriations, conventional and other types of timber sales that retain the funds created to use here on the peninsula for projects here.
The collaborative will also help provide stakeholder input in early project planning and increase public awareness as the projects collect data, “We can’t do it alone,” Laford said.
Paul Bialkowsky, Timber Manager, Olympic Peninsula Operations, Interfor and also a collaborative member spoke about the mechanics of the collaborative and working for a shared goal that will include industry, government, and environmental community to increase timber harvest while maintaining forest and watershed quality.
Bialkowsky said, “The stewardship sale revenue stays here, those dollars do not go to the Federal Treasury, they benefit projects here to be re-invested in other projects and recreation.”
“There is still the normal bidding and sales but the stakeholders work together to develop the projects.” A key goal is to reduce conflict and seek to achieve a common vision about the future of the ONF.
“We are forming relationships and trust,” Matt Komisky, Washington Program Manager, American Forest Resource Council said. Komisky went on to say the goals of the collaborative are to increase acres and total harvest volume, while increasing efficiency. The collaborative also looks to explore opportunities, reduce conflict, and create a forum to bring together and address problems that might stand in the way of accomplishing these goals.
Kamisky shared information on the H to Z stewardship sale. The sale was located in the Sol Duc watershed and was the first pilot project of the Olympic Forest Collaborative on the Pacific Ranger District in the ONF. The sale had two components; a thinning project and an upland habitat enhancement component, that would bring diversity to the plant understory and improve habitat for sensitive and endangered species.
The goal was to try different approaches to learn management practices that could be applied elsewhere in the ONF. The project was completed in Sept. 2017 by Sierra Pacific Industries.
The harvest volume was 10,787 green tons and it generated $313,902 gross revenue. A total of $296,982 was generated for stewardship restoration projects, 1,000 seedlings were planted and interplanting of underrepresented species was completed as part of the project.
Jill Silver collaborative member and Executive Director at the 10,0000 Years Institute described activities in several photos that showed plots of timber stands with trees marked, identified and inventoried. The plots are monitored at various stages of harvest.
“We will be looking at before and after thinning and compare side by side and hope to use drone and wildlife camera too to see what birds and animals visit the plots,” Boremann said.
“There is a social element to this, to provide an opportunity for the community to look and share their views, community will play a vital role,” Boremann added.
“Ecosystem sustainability needs a community and environmental partnership, interaction is critical.”
“Partnerships will need to be developed to help fund the cost of this research. Sustainability is discussed but we don’t monitor the results.”
Collaborative forest activities will also have non-treated areas that will be monitored and compared to area where harvesting activities take place.
Rod Fleck Forks’ city attorney/planner said it was great to see the Collaborative back in Forks but it concerned him that the community had been left out of the plan, “Community of place needs to be included I don’t see Amanda Park, Forks or the Tribes mentioned,” Fleck said.
Silver said, “We are getting to that point now.” Fleck also suggested the Collaborative open its membership to a broader mix of stakeholders.
Kamisky said that the Collaborative will continue to seek funding, look to incorporate local schools and perhaps Peninsula College to help with monitoring and seek input from the community and how they might want to participate.