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Lake County Hits Forest Restoration Jackpot

February 3, 2012

LAKEVIEW, Ore. - Southern Oregon's Lake County is getting a cash infusion of $3.5 million through the Forest Service. The Lakeview Stewardship Project is one of 23 selected nationwide for federal funding announced on Thursday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and will receive the largest of the grants for forest restoration.

Jim Walls, director of the Lake County Resources Initiative, says the county contains almost 500,000 acres that are too dry to maintain healthy forests.

"They're overcrowded. They're dying out too quick. We're losing our big trees 100 years too early, et cetera. So, this gets us to the level of output so that we can actually be ahead of the problem rather than losing ground."

Walls sees the grant as the end result of 13 years of work by the Lakeview Stewardship Project, a collaboration of environmental groups, local timber and biomass companies and community leaders. It has received smaller grants before, but he says this one warrants a celebration - and there's plenty to spend it on.

"A good percentage of the work will be forest thinning - thinning out stands so that the bigger, older trees that are left can get the moisture that they need to survive. But there'll also be repairing work and culvert removal, and some road decommissioning on non-needed roads."

The money will allow the group to increase restoration already under way. Walls says one wood-products manufacturer closed last month in Lakeview, eliminating 35 jobs. He hopes the additional work will give some of those people new opportunities.

Also in Oregon, the Southern Blues Restoration Coalition, working in Malheur County, received new funding of $2.5 million, and work in the Deschutes Skyline Forest near Bend which began in 2010 will get continued funding.

Vilsack announced a total of more than $44 million in accelerated forest restoration work to be done in 13 states.

More information on the Lakeview proposal is online at

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR