The plan is a 100-year strategy for administering portions of federally managed lands in Oregon, Washington and northern California, with a focus on protecting old growth and other habitat while also providing for forest products, water quality, recreation and additional forest uses.
OSU’s Meg Krawchuk and James Johnston are among 21 people selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop an amendment that reflects new management needs necessitated by climate change, wildfire risk, insect infestation, disease and other threats to federal forests in the region.
Johnston and Krawchuk are two of nine scientists on the committee. The other 12 members were chosen for their forest policy expertise.
“This is a critical opportunity to contribute our perspectives to help chart the course of forest management and social-ecological adaptation in the region for future generations,” Krawchuk said.
Krawchuk examines fire ecology, fire patterns and the ecological and social wins and losses associated with fire; fire as an ecosystem process; and the pros and cons of fire for conservation of biodiversity.
Johnston studies historical and contemporary patterns of wildfire in the Northwest, with a particular focus on using tree ring data to understand variability in fire and climate. He also monitors the ecological effects of fuel reduction treatments in dry forests with an emphasis on integrating science into management.
“Establishing this committee is another way for us to embrace climate-smart science, ensure we hear from diverse voices and get a range of perspectives on how to best confront the wildfire crisis and climate change,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a news release issued by his department. “This committee will also be asked to help reshape ways we engage with communities and deepen our connections with tribes as we go through the Northwest Forest Plan amendment process.”
The panel will also advise how its efforts can complement the Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy, the USDA says. The strategy is a document released last year to serve as an agency road map for reducing wildfire risk.
The Northwest Forest Plan was designed as a legal framework for melding timber harvesting with protections for threatened and endangered species including the northern spotted owl and Chinook and coho salmon. More than 20 million acres spread among 17 national forests, seven Bureau of Land Management Districts and six national parks are covered by the plan.
The Department of Agriculture notes that the national forests in the Northwest Forest Plan area have significant ecologic value, are important for the social and economic sustainability of Northwest communities and are culturally significant as the ancestral homelands for tribal nations.
About the OSU College of Forestry: For a century, the College of Forestry has been a world class center of teaching, learning and research. It offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs in sustaining ecosystems, managing forests and manufacturing wood products; conducts basic and applied research on the nature and use of forests; and operates more than 15,000 acres of college forests.