Funding to go toward the Tualatin Mountain Forest, Minam Conservation and Connectivity Projects

Monday, July 10, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced today that U.S. Forest Service will be awarding $19,999,000 for the Tualatin Mountain Forest project and the Minam Conservation and Connectivity project through the Forest Legacy Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These projects will help conserve and manage economically and ecologically significant forestlands in Oregon. 

“It’s great news that these two amazing Oregon sites will be protected thanks to the Forest Legacy Program. This funding to conserve Oregon’s valuable forests will help to ensure this land remains healthy, well managed, and accessible to Oregonians, visitors, and future generations,” said Merkley, a longtime supporter of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the U.S. Forest Service. “These projects will bring benefits to the state, and I will keep working to make sure the federal government does its part to create and conserve healthy, resilient forests across Oregon.”

“Federal investment in managing forest health is a must for our state to lower wildfire danger and continue to protect our natural treasures,” said Wyden. “I’m gratified to see these federal funds go toward economically and ecologically viable conservation in the Tualatin Mountain Forest project and along the Minam River. I will continue battling for similar investments statewide that conserve our forests and support quality of life throughout Oregon.”

The U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program (FLP) is funded historically through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The FLP also received a significant boost from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Through FLP, the U.S. Forest Service partners with state agencies to encourage the protection of privately-owned forest lands through conservation easements or land purchases. The awards coming to Oregon are part of a larger $188 million investment to conserve forestlands across the nation.

“The Tualatin Mountain Forest project has great potential to develop a research and demonstration forest with expanded community benefits,” says Kristin Kovalik, the Trust for Public Land Oregon program director. “At over 3,000 acres, and an established trail network, this site would provide an opportunity to combine sustainable forest management, urban youth education and workforce development, and improved recreational opportunities and access to nature.  This project is possible thanks in large part to Senator Merkley, who has championed Tualatin Mountain from his post as chair of the Senate subcommittee that funds forest conservation. We thank the Senator for his leadership in passing landmark investments for the Forest Legacy Program through the Inflation Reduction Act and the Great American Outdoors Act, which enable projects like this.”

“This commitment of Forest Legacy funding is a vital step toward completion of a landmark conservation project that will conserve and protect habitat for elk, mule deer, fish, birds and other wildlife, while also providing access by hunters, anglers and others,” said Kyle Weaver, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “We would like to recognize our partners at Manulife, ODFW and the U.S. Forest Service as well as support from elected officials, both locally and in Congress, for making this conservation victory possible.”

Information on the awards coming to Oregon can be found below:

  • $10,245,000 in IRA funds for the Tualatin Mountain Forest Project to establish a 3,111-acre working research forest to be owned by Oregon State University to pioneer climate-smart forestry methods.
  • $9,754,000 ($460,000 of which are IRA funds) for the Minam Conservation & Connectivity Project, Phase 2, to protect 10,964 acres of working forestland and a corridor along the Minam River. This is the second part to an acquisition by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in 2021, funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Together, Phases 1 & 2 (15,573 acres) connect the nationally designated Minam and Wallowa Wild and Scenic River corridors. 

A link to the U.S. Forest Service’s funding announcement can be found here.