Facing complex ecological and economic challenges, Baker, Union, and Wallowa counties jointly convened a public meeting in June of 2012 to propose the creation of a forest collaborative. The meeting drew 48 participants from 23 diverse stakeholder groups from across the three county area. The participants formally endorsed the Wallowa Whitman Forest Collaborative’s (WWFC) formation and discussed the collaborative’s direction, priorities, and structure.

Soon after, the WWFC organized an official Operations Committee consisting of nine voluntary members, appointed Wallowa Resources as its fiscal agent, and drafted the group’s operating principles and mission. The collaborative has since hired a part-time facilitator and now meets monthly to discuss the management and restoration of the Wallowa Whitman National Forest.

 MAP CREDIT: ECOSYSTEM WORKFORCE PROGRAM, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON

MAP CREDIT: ECOSYSTEM WORKFORCE PROGRAM, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON

Collaboration in Oregon

During the 1980s and ‘90s, federal lands management was characterized by gridlock and public controversy. As the work on our national forests slowed, the health of our forested landscapes and the vitality of the communities that depend on them suffered. Fortunately, community-based collaboratives have emerged across Oregon and the West as a way to address the critical need for restoration of our forests. By creating a space for citizens to better engage with public lands managers and share in the designing of projects, collaboratives are helping the Forest Service get their work done better.

Starting with a few innovative local partnerships in the 1990s, there is now at least one collaborative group on every national forest in Oregon (see map to the right). Collaboratives in Eastern Oregon have grown around the need to address catastrophic wildfire, insects and disease, and economic challenges. The WWFC formed, like many other collaborative groups, in an effort to restore our local landscape and increase economic and community viability within our region.

 

"Collaboration is really the only way to work through the legal and legislative frameworks that are currently in place. And it is the best way for rural communities like mine to have a meaningful say and role in public lands management and decision making." - Mark Webb, Executive Director, Blue Mountains Forest Partners