Siletz Tribe Maintaining Healthy Forests with support from NRCS
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Siletz Tribe Maintaining Healthy Forests with support from NRCS

November 8, 2019

We plant our plantations at a dense spacing,
figuring that some of the trees are going to die. But as they grow, they get really
crowded. So we need to thin them out so that the best trees will continue to grow and the
less healthy trees, the ones that are deformed, we cut those out. And we’re looking at saving
the best and fastest-growing trees for the future. A typical unit when we start one, it’s pretty
dense in there. The trees are planted really close together when you start out. And that’s
why they got to have us come in there and thin them, so that they can get sunlight in.
You can see the benefits as soon as you do it. The trees that you’re leaving are getting
more sunlight, and you know that’s good for them. And they’re just growing better and
they’re not having to compete with other trees so close. It just makes for a good, healthier
tree. And the trees that were actually fallen down,
they sit there and rot on the ground just go right back into the soils. The tribe depends on the revenue from its
timber harvest. And if the trees don’t grow the way we expect them to grow, if they’re
too crowded, then we won’t get the size trees that we want. We won’t get the future revenue
that we expect to get from the forest. Having a healthy, well-growing forest is essential
to that. When you first see a unit logged, it doesn’t
look so good. But man, once you get it planted again and we come in there and start doing
our job, it really makes you feel good that you’re giving back to the forest. It’s just
a nice cycle that’s going to keep the forest here for all generations. The E-Q-I-P program from the N-R-C-S has been
really a god-send. Without some of the money from the E-Q-I-P program to do pre-commercial
thinning, some of these stands wouldn’t get thinned. We just don’t have the funding to
do all the stands. So our relationship with the local N-R-C-S has been great. We’re on
our third contract now for pre-commercial thinning, and it’s been going along great. Often times our tribes have not had the financial
resources nor the technical resources that they need to reach their tribal goals. But
they often have cultural resource goals as well on these lands and may use those lands
for hunting and gathering for tribal members. So it goes beyond the typical work that N-R-C-S
might do to help them meet those cultural resource goals as well. I believe N-R-C-S staff in Oregon really go
out of their way to try to engage the tribes. And I’m very proud of the type of planning
we’re able to do that specifically serves the tribal needs in the way that our tribes
want to work.

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