Woodland - Winter 2020 - 35

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partners work to increase the number of landowners
interested in taking action to manage their land, one
major barrier emerges: there are simply not enough
foresters available to provide that essential, technical
assistance.
The forester capacity challenge is multifold. Across
the West, state and federal agencies are experiencing
increasingly tight budgets and variable year-over-year
funding. These compounding issues have led to agency
offices with too few foresters on staff to serve large,
rural landscapes. In many states, those agency foresters
also have to manage overlapping duties - like in Oregon,
where a large portion of Oregon Department of Forestry
(ODF) foresters have firefighting responsibilities during
fire season, on top of " off-season " duties working with
landowners to reduce risk. Further complicating the
capacity issue, there are fewer graduates entering the
forestry sector each year, in part due to declining timber
markets across western states.
" Given the scale of the West's fire crisis and the
increasing demand for forestry expertise, we need to
have more 'boots on the ground' to help landowners
manage their risk " said Natalie Omundson, Western
Conservation Manager for the American Forest
Foundation. This multi-layered challenge will require
partnerships across sectors and scales focused
specifically on building forester capacity.
How the American Forest Foundation is
helping build local capacity
In 2019, AFF joined forces with the Natural Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS) on a $4.6 million pilot
program to build forester capacity across priority
landscapes in California, Colorado, Montana and
Oregon. Through the program, AFF works directly with
state agency and non-profit partners to both create new
jobs to administer technical assistance to private forest
landowners and provide dedicated funding for agency
foresters amid state cutbacks. Through this dedicated
capacity model, the program is able to increase delivery
of long-term, site-specific management plans that are
a prerequisite for unlocking the financial assistance
landowners need to conduct fire risk reduction
treatments on their land.
In addition to simply increasing the number of
foresters in priority landscapes, partners are also
testing models for how to diversify the pool of forestry
professionals. For example, in a subset of the program,
partners in northeastern Oregon have combined
increased ODF forester capacity with dedicated
private sector consulting forester capacity. This model
- organized and coordinated by partners at Wallowa
Resources and Oregon State University (OSU) Extension
- also includes a workforce development component
that supports job growth in rural economies, through

which partners have hired and trained a cadre of new
forest technicians to work alongside the program's
dedicated consulting foresters.
This northeast Oregon model has led to two key
learnings for program partners. First, in landscapes
like Oregon where state agency foresters still need to
devote their summers to fire duty, having a diversified
pool of foresters is crucial for increasing the speed and
scale of active forest management. In cases where
ODF foresters are unable to provide assistance to a
landowner, partners can redirect that landowner to
another local consulting forester. Second, providing
technical assistance to landowners can be a timeintensive process with the relative complexity of the
plan increasing with property size. By pairing foresters
with forest technicians, the workload becomes more
manageable, increasing the speed of management plan
delivery for landowners. Based on the initial successes
of this model, AFF is looking at opportunities to develop
similar diversified forester workforce options in other
priority landscapes, such as southwestern Colorado.
Overall, the capacity-building pilot program has been
highly successful in the initial priority landscapes. More
than 160 landowners, collectively owning more than
58,000 acres, have received management plans through
this program. Without the program, it's likely these plans
either would not have been written in the first place or it
would have taken years longer to complete.
AFF has also documented increased rates of financial
assistance applications. In Oregon, for example, 84%
of landowners who have received management plans
through this program have also completed a cost-share
application through the NRCS Environmental Quality
Incentives Program (EQIP), the federal government's
largest conservation cost-share program. Furthermore,
the program has enhanced cross-agency relationships
in many landscapes, improving strategic coordination on
how to prioritize limited funding to get the greatest return
on investment.
By supplying landowners with management plans
necessary to access financial assistance programs, AFF
hopes that more landowners will be able to complete
treatment activities to reduce fire risk on private lands.
" Our big picture goal here is to increase active forest
management in priority landscapes so that we can
reduce the likelihood of devastating fires. And this
program offers a model for how we can overcome a key
roadblock for scaling that on-the-ground impact goal, "
Omundson notes.
" Looking forward we're discussing opportunities
with state leaders to expand funding for this program
- both to increase capacity in the key areas we're
already working in as well as to include additional
key landscapes suffering from the same challenge, "
A
Omundson concluded.
Winter 2020 * WOODLAND 35


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Woodland - Winter 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Woodland - Winter 2020

Our Forests & Our Future
Cutthroat Brook Tree Farm & North Quabbin Land Trust Provide Accessible Trails
Forest Interactions
Outreach & Connections Through Virtual Events
Planting Seeds for the Future of Family Forestry
Woods, Wildlife and Warblers Program Obtain Funding for Expansion
Overcoming the Forester Capacity Challenge in the Western U.S.
2020 Policy Wins
Woodland - Winter 2020 - Intro
Woodland - Winter 2020 - cover1
Woodland - Winter 2020 - cover2
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 3
Woodland - Winter 2020 - Our Forests & Our Future
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 5
Woodland - Winter 2020 - Cutthroat Brook Tree Farm & North Quabbin Land Trust Provide Accessible Trails
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 7
Woodland - Winter 2020 - Forest Interactions
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 9
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 10
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 11
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 12
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 13
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 14
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 15
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 16
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 17
Woodland - Winter 2020 - Outreach & Connections Through Virtual Events
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 19
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 20
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 21
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 22
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 23
Woodland - Winter 2020 - Planting Seeds for the Future of Family Forestry
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 25
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 26
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 27
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 28
Woodland - Winter 2020 - Woods, Wildlife and Warblers Program Obtain Funding for Expansion
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 30
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 31
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 32
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 33
Woodland - Winter 2020 - Overcoming the Forester Capacity Challenge in the Western U.S.
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 35
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 2020 Policy Wins
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 37
Woodland - Winter 2020 - 38
Woodland - Winter 2020 - cover3
Woodland - Winter 2020 - cover4
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