Oregon forests secure millions from USDA for conservation and climate resilience projects

Monday, July 31, 2023

By: KATU Staff


SALEM, Ore. – Two Oregon forests have received $10.7 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Legacy Program.

The Minam Conservation and Connectivity Project in northeast Oregon and the Tualatin Mountain Forest Project in northwest Oregon is among 34 projects nationwide that received funds to protect working forests for wildlife, people, and climate resiliency.

A Monday press release says the Minam Conservation Connectivity Project phase II will acquire 10,964 acres of working forestland and a corridor along the Minam River in Union and Wallowa counties. Spearheaded by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, this project will conserve scenic viewsheds on over 2.4 million acres of adjacent public lands.

The Tualatin Mountain Forest project will secure a 3,111-acre forest near Scappoose as a working research forest to be owned and managed by Oregon State University. The project will serve as a national model for an actively managed forest, mitigate climate change, and create public access and recreation opportunities, officials say.

“The Tualatin Mountain Forest project has great potential to develop a research and demonstration forest with expanded community benefits,” says Kristin Kovalik, Oregon program director for the Trust for Public Land, who is acquiring the land. “Projects like this require diverse partners and we are grateful for the Oregon Department of Forestry and US Forest Service ongoing commitment to the Forest Legacy Program, and Senators Merkley and Wyden for supporting the Inflation Reduction act and the Great American Outdoors Act which help fund projects like the Tualatin Mountain Forest.”

“The Forest Legacy Program is a critical tool to keep working forests working while protecting important habitat for fish, wildlife, and people,” she said. “This is the largest investment in Oregon’s working lands in the Forest Legacy program’s history and land trusts are poised to leverage these funds to protect even more of these ecologically and economically important lands,” says Kelley Beamer, Executive Director of the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts.

The Oregon Department of Forestry will administer the program locally. The funding for the projects comes from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Inflation Reduction Act.