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Wallowa Front Fuel Reduction Project

Year Awarded: FY 18
Proposed USDA Funding: $2.2 million
RCPP Funding Pool: National
Project Timeline: 5 years (2018 – 2022)
Location: Wallowa County, Oregon
Lead Partner: Wallowa Resources

Collaborating Partners

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Wallowa Soil and Water Conservation District
  • U.S. Forest Service – Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
  • Oregon Department of Forestry
  • Blue Mountain Cohesive Wildfire Strategy
  • American Forest Foundation
  • Private landowners

Project Summary

The Wallowa Front is characterized by significant wildfire risk in the Oregon Department of Forestry's Communities at Risk of Wildfire (CAR) and there is a great concern about the risk of catastrophic wildfires. The project will create defensible space to assist in wildfire suppression between public and private forest land by thinning overstocked stands, manipulating fuels, and reducing fuel loads. Stand replacement fires have adverse impacts on watershed function including erosion, habitat loss, reduced water quality and commercial productivity. The current average fuel load is estimated to be 60-80 tons per acre of standing live trees, dead trees and slash on the ground. The target treatment level would be around 30 tons per acre on a typical treatment scenario.

The project’s goals and objectives are to:

  1. Reduce wildfire Hazard on the Wallowa Front by removing 30 tons per acre of fuel on 4,200 acres of non-industrial private forestland, reducing ladder fuels, bulk density of the canopy and creating a defensible buffer between public and private lands.
  2. Improve soil health - organic matter depletion by removing the excessive fuel loads and reducing the likelihood of a catastrophic fire destroying organic matter and microbial populations on forested soils.

The objective is to have a half-mile buffer on the private forest land that has a proper stocking density, and significantly reduced fuel load to maintain forest soil health and help reduce the effects of or prevent a catastrophic fire. Pre-commercial thinning, slash treatment and prescribed fire will be needed to solve this problem. Cooperation from the USFS to treat national forest lands adjacent to the private will further protect the resource and increase the effectiveness of the buffer by reducing fuel and protecting forest soil health.

The total reduction in fuel loads will be approximately 170,000 tons, creating a defensible public/private land boundary buffer.

This project builds on the success of a previous RCPP project on the Alder Slope, which has contracted 2,741 acres of treatments on private lands, exceeding the goal by an additional 241 acres.

Wallowa Front Fuels RCPP Map

NRCS Financial Assistance Programs Used

  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

    New Screening Question added: Do you have a current Forest Stewardship Plan that covers all the forest lands within the agricultural operation? If yes, use the 75/90% cost list. If no, use the 50/75% cost list.
    Note: A Forest Stewardship Plan differs from a Forest Management Plan in that a Forest Management Plan is focused on a single unit or a portion of the total agricultural operation.

Conservation Practices Offered

  • Pre-commercial thinning
  • Brush Management
  • Woody Residue Treatment
  • Fuel Breaks

Points of Contact

Eric Carlson, Oregon Department of Forestry
Phone: 541-886-2881

NRCS Local Service Center Contact: Wallowa County

Alyssa A. Cudmore, Wallowa Resources
Phone: 541-426-8053 x28

Wallowa - Thinning
Pre-commercial Thinning