January 22, 2021

Merkley, Wyden Announce Over $5.2 Million in USDA Resources for Fremont-Winema and Deschutes National Forest Resiliency Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that over $5.2 million in federal resources from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership are headed to Oregon’s Lake County All Lands Restoration Initiative and the Buttes to Basins All Lands Forest Resiliency Project in Jefferson and Deschutes counties to support critical forest restoration and maintenance efforts.

“Last year’s catastrophic wildfire season is a powerful example of why forest management projects are vital to the health and well-being of our communities,” said Merkley, who serves on both Senate Appropriations subcommittees that fund this program. “I’m pleased that Lake, Jefferson, and Deschutes counties are receiving these critical federal resources to boost resiliency in some of Oregon’s most wildfire-prone areas. I will continue to do everything I can to be a strong partner to local officials in every corner of our state to ensure that we’re reducing the destruction of future blazes.”

“Smart investment in forest management is a must to reduce the risk of wildfires and smoke devastating Oregon communities,” Wyden said. “I’m glad these three counties have earned these investments to build even more robust partnerships in the restoration and maintenance that’s constantly needed to protect families and small businesses from wildfire. And I’ll keep battling to provide federal support for similar partnerships in every nook and cranny of our state.”

“The Upper Deschutes Watershed Council is excited to partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and appreciative for this funding opportunity that will enhance our ability to restore habitat in the Whychus Creek watershed in Central Oregon. We look forward to working with the U.S. Forest Service and other partners to increase the pace and scale of our habitat restoration efforts in the Whychus Creek watershed,” said Kris Knight, Executive Director, Upper Deschutes Watershed Council.

"Central Oregon’s quality of life depends upon healthy forests, grasslands and rivers. If our forests are on fire, our grasslands choked with weeds and our rivers fouled or running dry, our quality of life is threatened. Fortunately, Central Oregon benefits from a strong partnership with our federal land managers and strong support from Oregon’s congressional delegation, as it will take coordinated, collaborative efforts to protect the unique natural resources that are critical to our future. The Buttes to Basin Resiliency Project is an important example of this public-private partnership, which works across jurisdictional boundaries to address these pressing issues,” said Brad Chalfant, Founding Director, Deschutes Land Trust.

"The Lake County All Lands Restoration Initiative has been selected to receive Joint Chiefs Funding for the third time. The funding will provide an $8 million infusion to the local economy over three years. The funds will be used to restore hundreds of thousands of acres of forest land across ownership boundaries in Lake County, strengthening the relationship between public and private landowners. In addition to bolstering the local economy, the funds will increase community resilience by simultaneously reducing wildfire risk and increasing forest health, allowing the land to sequester and store more carbon,” said Nick Johnson, Executive Director, Lake County Resources Initiative.

The Lake County All Lands Restoration Initiative will receive more than $2 million for its 402,400 acre landscape located 6 miles north of Lakeview. The project’s goal is to create a resilient fire adapted landscape that can be used for recreation, timber production, and grazing, while reducing the risk of severe wildfires in the future through forest management treatments and noxious weed prevention. The project will engage both private landowners and local partners, including Lake County Umbrella Watershed Council, Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon State University Extension, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Lake County Resources Initiative, and Lake County Cooperative Weed Management Area.

The Buttes to Basins All Lands Forest Resiliency Project in Jefferson and Deschutes counties will receive nearly $3.3 million to address wildfire risk in the Wildland Urban Interface through forest stand improvement, slash treatment, brush management, prescribed fire, and weed treatment. Additionally, the project will enhance habitat for mule deer and the northern spotted owl, while also advancing watershed restoration by improving ecological conditions and hydrologic function. This will benefit both private landowners and important federally listed species, including bull trout, chinook salmon, mid-Columbia steelhead, and Oregon spotted frog. The project will be completed in partnership with Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Oregon Department of Corrections, Central Oregon Inter-Governmental Council, and Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and Deschutes Land Trust.