Restoration Forestry Program
Restoration forestry is the concept of restoring modern forests to health using history as a guide. Restoration forestry provides a blueprint to return forests to a more natural, healthy, and fire resistant condition. This approach utilizes the principles of natural forest development, including the role of natural disturbances (such as fire), to guide maintenance and restoration of forests.
Lomakatsi works to restore forest ecosystems across thousands of acres, while creating “green jobs” and place based livelihoods. Our goal is to begin the process of restoring a wide range of complex forest communities and wildlife habitats, while simultaneously reducing the threat of severe uncharacteristic wildfires and providing small diameter and biomass materials from thinning operations. Lomakatsi has established long-term collaborative partnerships with agencies, tribes, conservation groups, industry and forest-based communities throughout Oregon and northern California. These collaborative relationships are the foundation for our Restoration Forestry Program where recent projects span two states and 10 counties.
Forests throughout southern Oregon, northern California and the west are under extreme environmental stress due in part to unnaturally high tree densities and hazardous fuels resulting from decades of fire exclusion and extractive high grade logging.
Old “legacy” trees are threatened by encroaching small, shade loving trees like Douglas fir, resulting from 100 years of fire exclusion. Current conditions of the forest include increased risk of uncharacteristically severe wildfire with resultant impacts to soil, water, air, plant, animal, and human resources. The forest also experiences increased risk of insects and disease, loss of large old trees, reduced wildlife habitat value, and decreased productivity.
Development of fine scale treatments is important to Lomakatsi for a high quality restoration outcome. Prior to restoration implementation, Lomakatsi’s Technical Team perform vegetation inventories and forest condition assessments that inform how treatments and operations will be implemented.
Key priorities and objectives during the planning and design of forest restoration projects include protection of large old “legacy” trees as well as protection of wildlife habitat, such as large old snags.
In addition to employing our own Lomakatsi forestry personnel and restoration crews, we hire local timber operators and forestry contractors from the communities where we conduct projects.
Partnering To Achieve Restoration Objectives
Throughout Oregon, Lomakatsi has been managing oak restoration projects in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and local forestry crews. The objective is to reduce conifer encroachment to retain oak trees and restore woodland habitat.
Through a partnership with the City of Eugene and local forestry operators, Lomakatsi managed the implementation of the South Eugene Meadows Oak Restoration Project. Young encroaching Douglas firs were removed to protect oaks through this ecological commercial thinning project and the restoration by-products (Douglas firs) were removed by helicopter to protect sensitive meadow habitat.
As part of the Snow Creek Oak Restoration Project, located in Siskiyou County, California, Lomakatsi staff marked small diameter Douglas fir trees for removal in an effort to protect old California black oaks. Taking place on private lands, this project is being managed by Lomakatsi through a partnership with US Fish and Wildlife Service, private landowners and local forestry contractor Shelterwood Enterprises.
Restoration forestry is guided by underlying ecological values including natural ecosystem function, resilience and overall health. In this approach, incorporating these ecological values is paramount to any commercial interests and associated activity (such as timber extraction). If these activities do occur, they are secondary by-products of restoration with the recovery of forest diversity, health, integrity, and resiliency being the main objectives.
Referred to as byproduct utilization, this practice is much preferred to burning all materials on site which eliminates and wastes any use newly cut material may have. If possible, utilization of cut material as saw logs, firewood, or biomass, (as an alternative to on-site burning), is encouraged. NOTE: This is different from timber production, forest agriculture, and other commercial interests which manage stands for economic gain. Byproduct utilization makes use of materials that would be created by ecological restoration activities regardless of whether there was a plan or need to use those materials.
To protect soils while implementing restoration forestry, activities often occur on existing roads and an appropriate yarding system is used.
Restoring landscapes requires a collaborative approach with restoration partners.
Siskiyou Land Conservancy & Lomakatsi Begin Large Restoration Project on the South Fork Smith River, July 5, 2011 Working with a private landowner and Oregon’s Lomakatsi Restoration Project, Siskiyou Land Conservancy embarks on one of the most significant projects in the organization’s history.
“Ashland Based Organization Has Long Term and Region-Wide Impact,” by Jude Wait, Ashland Magazine, Winter, 2008, pp. 58-60.
“Lomakatsi has a decade of mastery,” by Emily Harris, Ashland Daily Tidings, November 27, 2004
“Creating Economical Solutions for Forest Restoration: Small-Diameter Poles and the Economizer,” By Dave Levine, K-S Wild News, Spring, 2003, pp. 3-4