21 Aug 2008, 3:02pm
Saving Forests
by admin

The Gordon Meadows Project

SOS Forests is pleased and excited to report that the Gordon Meadows Restoration Plan has been completed and officially released for public distribution. The Cover and Mission Statement is [here] (2.2 MB) and the Plan itself is [here] (13.2 MB).

The Gordon Meadows plan is one of the first in a series of major, landscape-scale restoration projects proposed for Oregon forests by a consortium of interests including lead organizations on this project Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project, Inc. and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

Gordon Meadow is a mountain meadow (an ancient cultivated camas field complex) in the South Santiam watershed of the Willamette National Forest. The area was home to the South Santiam Molalla Indians (and the Kalapuya, Klamath, Chinook, and Paiute Indians) for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years prior to Euro-American arrival in Oregon. It is an ancient landscape, populated by human beings from time immemorial.

The Gordon Meadows Project is intended to restore a significant portion of the South Santiam and Blue River headwaters to a cultural landscape pattern representative of Santiam Molalla people at a time prior to the arrival of white occupation. Such a landscape pattern would feature a network of historical ridgeline and riparian trails, stands of old-growth conifer and hardwood trees, and a vast complex of prairies, berry patches, brakes, and meadows teeming with native wildlife, wildflowers, grasses, ferns, fruits, berries, shrubs, and saplings of all varieties.

The Project is designed for 1,900 acres, or about 3 square miles, but the South Santiam Molalla landscape extends for over 45,000 acres or 70 square miles. The ultimate goal is to restore it all to heritage conditions.

The primary purposes of the Gordon Meadows Project are:

1. To restore and maintain Santiam Molallan cultural landscape patterns.

2. To re-create traditional Molallan hunting, gathering, and resource management practices.

3. To reduce wildfire threat to local communities and native wildlife populations.

4. To protect historic old-growth tree populations.

5. To develop local and Tribal employment opportunities.

6. To enhance forest aesthetics, traditional spiritual sites and values, and local recreational opportunities.

The Gordon Meadows Project will achieve those purposes through active stewardship, including removal of excess second-cohort trees and fuels; application of anthropogenic (prescribed) fire intended to protect old-growth trees, reinstate old-growth development pathways, and enhance ancient camas, beargrass, and huckleberry fields; reinvigoration of active harvest of native foods and fibers; and inspiration and active engagement of the local community, Indian and non-Indian alike, in landscape restoration and maintenance.

Collaborators include ORWW, the Grand Ronde Tribes, the US Forest Service, private landowners, and a variety of civic and community groups. Additional collaborators are being encouraged and will be formally invited as the Project proceeds.

An earlier restoration project, the Jim’s Creek Savanna Restoration Project [here], will serve as a demonstration and model for South Santiam forest landscape restoration. Historical research in anthropology, landscape geography, ethno-botany, wildlife ecology, forest science, and fire science will accompany the active stewardship actions. Harvesting of commercial products including sawlogs, biomass for energy, and “wild” foods and fibers will help to fund the Project.

The Gordon Meadows Project represents a refinement of the traditional USFS mission. It will produce commodity and non-commodity values and enhance multiple resource values, but it also advances the more modern mission of restoration forestry. The concept that restoring heritage conditions can and does protect, maintain, and perpetuate all forest values is the new paradigm in forestry.

Stewardship is the practice of meeting current needs while protecting the essential productivity of the land to produce future needs. Utilizing time-honored and tested traditional stewardship methods promotes a sustainable future because it is informed by a sustained past.

Congratulations are extended to all those involved in the Gordon Meadows Project research and planning effort, and especially Dr. Bob Zybach of ORWW and David Lewis of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

We look eagerly forward to a wider collaboration in and implementation of the Gordon Meadows Restoration Project, and to the expansion and replication of this and similar projects across Oregon forests and other Western landscapes. Restoration is the wave of the future in environmental management. So many of our current environmental problems, including catastrophic megafire, will be solved through active restoration. That door is opening now. We hope all environmental scientists, practitioners, community leaders, and residents will embrace the new vision, because it promises so much for all of us.

21 Aug 2008, 8:12pm
by Wayne K.

The description of this project in the linked publications makes my heart sing.

21 Aug 2008, 8:53pm
by bear bait

Common sense. A common sense approach to USFS landscape management for all peoples for all times. Great work Bob!! Mr. Lewis!!! We have seen the future and are impressed.

22 Aug 2008, 8:53am
by Dr. Brenner

This is an excellent demonstration project, one that the Forest Service and BLM should watch carefully and learn from.

Congratulations to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde for leading by example. Congratulations to Dr. Zybach, his perseverance has paid off. Congratulations to the Western Institute for Study of the Environment whose support for these kinds of projects has been unsurpassed.

22 Aug 2008, 8:59am
by Mike

The Oregon Congressional Delegation is another group that should be learning by observing. This is what restoration forestry looks like. If Congress wishes to promulgate forest restoration legislation (and they have made noises in that regard), then this is the model they should strive to emulate and install.

22 Aug 2008, 9:33am
by Bob

The core area is 130,000 acres. Add on Obsidian Cliffs, Park Creek (Lava Lake basin), and Jim’s Creek (Middle Fork Willamette) and the total is at least 500,000 acres.

22 Aug 2008, 3:17pm
by David

It was a fun beginning for the project. It is exciting to begin to work on these things for the people. We hope to collaborate with a variety of organizations to make the project successful. This is the kind of project which necessarily involves the people most affected by the contemporaneously altered landscape, a model for other organizations who ignore the human phenomenon in their haste to produce a project. Tribal peoples have been a necessary part of the landscape since time immemorial and continue to be a vibrant part of the solutions for the future. Thanks to Bob Zybach and to the staff at the Sweet Home Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest for working so well with us on this initial phase of the project.

25 Aug 2008, 4:45pm
by David

Additionally, CTGR is now approved to discuss a plan of restoration for Gordon Meadows with Willamette National Forest. As far as I am aware, we do not have full approval to proceed with the project at any level. In the next few months we will be developing a preliminary plan for how the tribe and Sweet Home Ranger District will work together on this large project. I am sure that the resultant plan will work out well for all involved.

The tribe works carefully in such projects so that everyone has a say in the way such projects are approached and so that all partners are respected for their part in the project. The Gordon Meadows plan does present many powerful results that may be gained for the benefit of the environment. However, we also need to work within the policies of the Willamette National Forest, and will require full agreement from their principle administrators. We are positive that this will occur and that in a few years we will see the results of a restoration project.

The tribe is also concerned that whatever project we pursue, the traditional resources of the land will be utilized by tribal members. Those uses will develop over time as people become reacquainted with this landscape.

And, there are several tribes that have an interest in restoration in this area. We need to continue working on collaborative relationships with the other tribes. In the end I am sure we will have a great project for all concerned.

25 Aug 2008, 8:41pm
by Mike

I agree with the Confederated Tribes that restoring the historic landscape for environmental as well as traditional reasons is what the goal should be. It’s not just about Gordon Meadows and camas for Native Americans. It’s about stewardship of all the lands for all the people. No one should be excluded; all should have a voice and a role in caring for our shared landscapes. Collaborative relationships must be universal. Kudos to the CTGR for leading the way.



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