The North Central Washington Forest Health Collaborative, launched in 2013 with facilitation by the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board, is a diverse group of local stakeholders represented by timber industry, conservation groups, tribal government, elected officials, and local, state and federal land managers working together to obtain the resources and community support to accelerate landscape-scale forest restoration on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Chelan and Okanogan counties.
The collaborative's purpose is to advance forest health through transparent actions that improve forest resiliency, preserve terrestrial and aquatic wildlife habitat, protect natural resources, provide recreational opportunities, promote utilization of natural resources, and support local economies in Chelan and Okanogan Counties.
The website for the ESHB 2928 Resiliency Burning Pilot: http://www.putfiretowork.org/ncwfhc At this website you can also find the link to the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest’s Interactive Burn Maps.
Why is forest health on the national forests a community priority?
The 4-million acre Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest makes up 70% of the land base of Okanogan and Chelan counties and provides unique social, cultural, ecological and economic benefits to Washington State and the U.S., such as: abundant recreation and tourism opportunities, critical habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, timber and other forest products, to name only a few.
The Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest Restoration Strategy, adopted in 2010, reports that numerous scientific studies have shown the national forest “is experiencing uncharacteristically severe fires (see North 40 Production's 2015 trailer called "Wildfire & US"), insect infestations, disease epidemics, habitat loss and hydrologic events that cause massive erosion. Climate change will exacerbate these threats in the near future. Scientists generally agree active, landscape-scale restoration is needed if the forest is to become resilient to these threats…. To restore forest sustainability and resiliency, the forest needs to substantially increase its restoration footprint, reach across boundaries through collaborative efforts, better integrate across disciplines to accomplish multiple objectives, and adapt to changing conditions and new science.” Our collaborative is using a consensus-based approach to build momentum towards this restoration in Chelan and Okanogan counties while also providing jobs, forest products and recreational opportunities.
We’ve seen active restoration make a difference for landscapes in north central Washington in the form of renewed understory in forested stands to restored complexity in rivers through adding woody material.
“We often say that ‘fish grow on trees.’ Most of our snowpack dominated streams originate on these National Forest managed lands. Additionally, many of the listed bull trout populations reside on National Forest managed lands. The health of these uplands is linked to the health of our region’s rivers; and our communities.”
Derek Van Marter, former ED, Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board.