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Maintaining Healthy Timber Forests Takes Teamwork

Posted by Tracy Robillard, Oregon Public Affairs Officer on June 27, 2016 at 04:31 PM
Kevin Goodell (left), a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and tribal natural resources crew member, and Mike Kennedy, natural resources director for the Siletz Tribe.

Kevin Goodell (left), a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and tribal natural resources crew member, and Mike Kennedy, natural resources director for the Siletz Tribe.

“I love working in the forest. Feels good just to be out here,” says Kevin Goodell, a Siletz tribal member who serves on the tribe’s natural resources crew. “We log the trees, we go back in and plant them, we thin them. It’s a cycle that keeps the forest healthy and keeps it here for future generations―for my kids and grandkids.”

Healthy forests are an integral part of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians’ way of life—spiritually, culturally, and economically.

“Forest health is our shared focus,” says Kate Danks, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) district conservationist in Lincoln County. “Pre-commercial thinning is essential because it removes damaged and diseased trees, and it opens up the canopy, allowing more sunlight in. The open understory also provides better wildlife habitat.”

But that’s only on the surface; what happens underground is just as important. The thinned trees are cut into pieces and left to decompose.

“Decomposition encourages all kinds of biological activity in the soil,” Danks said. “With increased organic content, the soil can hold more water through infiltration, which in turn reduces run-off and soil erosion.”
 



“NRCS’ cost-share assistance (through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program) has been a godsend,” says Mike Kennedy, director of natural resources for the Siletz Tribe.

“Without support to do pre-commercial thinning, many of our stands wouldn’t get thinned. We just don’t have the funding to complete the vast workload.”

Not only is pre-commercial thinning good for the forest, but it also contributes to the economic livelihood of the tribe.

“The tribe depends on the revenue from its timber harvest, so we must maintain a healthy, growing forest,” Kennedy says. “If the trees don’t grow the way we expect them to, or if they’re too crowded, then we won’t have trees of the right size. We won’t get the future revenue that we expect from the forest.”

In addition to the Siletz Tribe, NRCS is actively engaged with eight other federally-recognized tribes in Oregon to assist with forestry, rangeland health, and sage grouse habitat improvements.

Tags: Oregon, forests, Tribal

categories Communities , Environment, Farmer & Rancher Stories, Soil Health

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