By SAMANTHA TIPLER
H&N Staff Reporter
A $3 million grant is funding Oregon’s purchase of more than 25,000 acres to complete the Gilchrist State Forest.
In cooperation with The Conservation Fund, the Oregon Department of Forestry took on management of the Gilchrist forest in 2010. Then ODF owned 43,000 acres while the Conservation Fund owned more than 25,000 acres. The cooperation kept the Gilchrist forest in one continuous block, which ODF managed.
“We purchased in conjunction with The Conservation Fund,” said Greg Pittman, Klamath-Lake District Forester. “They were holding a portion of that until we could afford to buy the rest of it.”
The U.S. Forest Service announced grant awards of its Forest Legacy Program Thursday, which included the $3 million for purchasing the remaining 25,835 acres of the Gilchrist forest. The Forest Legacy Program works to protect working private forests, according to the press release.
Before the Oregon Department of Forestry took over managing the Gilchrist forest, it was heavily harvested in the 1990s. Most of the trees there are about 20 years old. Pittman said the forest is still harvested, now with a management goal in mind.
“We put up timber sales from time to time,” he said.
The forestry department also does what he called “young stand management,” thinning trees to give those that remain a healthy place to grow. It can help minimize fire danger and reduce the risk of insect and disease outbreaks.
“It’s an actively managed forest,” he said.
ODF manages it for the “greatest permanent value, taking into account social and environmental factors,” Pittman said.
Because the forestry department has been managing the Gilchrist forest since 2010, the $3 million grant won’t change that.
“It’s not going to change anything other than the ownership,” Pittman said. “The intent between us and The Conservation Fund was to purchase that. This just helps us get there. It doesn’t change anything on the landscape.”