- Additional Plants: native plants, trees, ornamentals
- Crop Production: agroforestry
- Education and Training: technical assistance
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, wildlife
- Sustainable Communities: employment opportunities
Northwest Natural Resource Group (NNRG) reached out to more than 100 natural resource professionals and 2,500 family forest owners through the project, “Technical Service Provider Training to Improve Services for Family Forest Landowners” funded by Western SARE. NNRG hosted two two-day workshops for natural resource professionals interested in the Technical Service Provider (TSP) program; 15 people attended the workshops and four professionals reported completing the TSP application process.
NNRG promoted the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to more than 2,500 forest producers (family forest landowners) in Oregon and Washington. Outreach efforts through the “Funding Forest Stewardship” series included emails, newsletters, workshop handouts, social medial, presentations at landowner workshops, and on-one-one landowner interactions. From 2012 to spring 2015, more than 68 forest producers directly informed NNRG that they applied to NRCS for EQIP funds to develop management plans and conduct conservation practices to enhance timber quality and overall productivity on more than 1,800 acres.
NNRG obtained information from NRCS about EQIP contracts awarded during the project period. From 2012-2014, NRCS in Washington State reports contracting 67 Conservation Activity Plans (CAPs; i.e. forest management plans) and contracting for 776 EQIP conservation practices for forest stand improvements. Per a Freedom of Information Act request to NRCS, the agency reports that in Oregon it issued 890 EQIP contracts from 2012-2014. These Oregon EQIP contracts include all agricultural and forestry related practices. Agency staff indicate that they cannot provide further breakdown on the contracts due to privacy concerns and legal restrictions.
NNRG worked with 17 forest producers during this project and assisted them in conducting commercially viable selective harvests across 330 acres. These ecological thinning projects averaged 20 acres per producer and removed 30-40% of stand volume. Thinning treatments focused on the removal of suppressed and dying trees and were designed to reduce fuel loads, promote growth of remaining trees, and increase structural complexity. Each harvest employed, on average, 3.25 natural resource contractors (logging crew and truck driver) for 3-6 weeks, produced an average of 69,000 board feet of wood material, and grossed an average of $1,600 per acre ($820 per thousand board feet). In total, the ecological thinning projects contributed more than $500,000 to the regional economy.
Through the "Technical Service Provider Training to Improve Services for Family Forest Landowners" project, NNRG sought to cultivate a broader network of forestry professionals able to respond to producers’ demand for EQIP projects and the broader need for assistance with forest conservation practices.
At the outset of this project, NNRG identified the following specific performance targets:
- Increase the number of TSPs to a total of at least 12 in Washington and Oregon.
- Increase the number of forestland owners applying for EQIP projects to include 80-100 new projects over two years.
- Increase the number of NNRG member landowners, by an additional 6-10 per year, who choose to undertake forest health thinning operations outside of EQIP projects as a way of generating sustainable revenue and fund restoration activities.