The Klamath Lake Forest Health Partnership (KLFHP) was honored with an Oregon State University Extension Service Cooperator Award Dec. 4, for its contributions to Extension programming, at the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis.
KLFHP was founded in 1993, and includes private landowners, forestry consultants, conservation groups, local fire districts, as well as state and federal natural resource agencies. Its mission is to “facilitate restoration projects on public and private forestland in Klamath and Lake Counties through education, outreach, and diverse partnerships.”
Within KLFHP’s first four years, cross boundary prescribed fire was applied through partnerships of private landowners, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). Given the success of utilizing prescribed fire, in 2000 the partnership commissioned, wrote, illustrated, and published a landowner’s guidebook to landscape-scale land management; this forward thinking publication was far ahead of its time, and would become a major focus and success of the KLFHP in the years to come.
In 2016, the KLFHP started developing landscape, cross-boundary efforts with the North Warner Multi-Ownership Forest Health Project (North Warner Project). The North Warner Project spans 162,400 acres of public and private land with 30-plus private landowners in Lake County. The KLFHP has mapped and assessed 32,000 acres of private land, leveraged $7 million of funding (over four years), and restored dry forests on approximately 21,292 acres of private land and 15,249 acres of Forest Service (USFS) managed public land through various treatments (commercial and pre-commercial thinning, and prescribed fire). Preparations are in place to reintroduce and maintain this landscape with prescribed fire.
The second project area, titled the Chiloquin Community Forest and Fire Project (Chiloquin Project), covers 187,000 acres of public and private land with 2,800 landowners in Klamath County including the city of Chiloquin and eight subdivisions. The KLFHP has mapped and assessed 32,000 acres of private land, conducted structure assessments on 354 different structures within this project area, and procured $2.64 million in funding (to date, over three years) which will go toward thinning and fuel reduction treatments, and implementation began in 2019 with a goal to restore both public and private lands. To date, 28,926 acres have been treated across ownership boundaries within the project area.
The third project, titled the Thomas Creek All Lands Project (Thomas Creek Project), covers 240,000 acres in Lake County. Through funding from OWEB and the USFS in 2019, the KLFHP completed mapping and assessment of 48,565 acres of private lands (175 landowners) with a goal to inform priorities for restoration and treatment along with land management planning for each landowner. Implementation of dry forest restoration projects will begin in 2020.
In conjunction with these projects, the KLFHP has been assisting with a fourth landscape scale project called the Gerber Watershed Forest and Juniper Landscape Project, which covers 354,108 acres. This project has been taking place longer than the other three landscape efforts, and played a critical role in helping the KLFHP to develop their landscape scale strategy for management. This project includes cross-boundary efforts to restore range and grazing lands, along with scattered dry-site ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forests.
Along with landscape efforts to treat across ownership boundaries, the Gerber Landscape was also home to the first Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) timber sale, within the state of Oregon. This GNA timber sale exemplifies the goals and values that the KLFHP hold; this timber sale was organized and coordinated through partnerships between the U.S. Forest Service, Klamath Falls ODF, and neighboring private land owners, with ODF serving as the administrator for carrying out this timber sale on USFS land. The sale itself abuts private lands that have been treated through efforts of coordination with KLFHP partners, while also directly involving the private landowner neighbors. These private landowners have granted access through their property for access and hauling in regard to carrying out this timber sale.
Across all of the projects that the KLFHP has carried out 83,765 acres of private non-industrial ownership have been mapped across 3,005 separate ownerships, with 354 structures assessed for fire danger (with recommendations for proactive measures provided to these owners), and $9,640,000 acquired to implement cross-boundary treatments on both public and private ownership.
The success of these projects is based on a few key factors: 1) the KLFHP is a high-performing partnership that operates under a shared vision with a priority of restoration across Lake and Klamath counties; 2) projects are designed around NEPA-ready USFS projects creating long-lasting partnerships and opportunities for implementation (i.e. prescribed fire) across private and public land; 3) KLFHP partners dedicate time and resources to private landowner outreach, engagement, and assistance with land management planning; 4) there is an up-front investment in private land mapping and assessment to understand current dry forest conditions and develop recommendations; 5) KLFHP partners use all authorities, agreements, and tools to accomplish work, and most importantly; 6) the KLFHP focuses efforts towards action on-the-ground to accomplish ridgetop to ridgetop restoration (restoring uplands down to the water bodies).In 2018 the KLFHP documented and published “Planning and Implementing Cross-boundary, Landscape-scale Restoration and Wildfire Risk Reduction Projects” (OSU Extensions Publication PNW 707) on how it planned and successfully implemented cross-boundary, landscape-scale forest restoration projects. This publication is intended as a scale-able guide for similar organizations to carry out forest restoration work.
For more information about the KLFHP, or about attending one of the monthly meetings visit www.klfhp.org, or call Oregon State Extensions Services Lake County at 541-947-6054.