What's happening on the Ochoco?
Recognizing an ongoing public interest in local Forest Service activities and programs, Ochoco National Forest staff has put together a new report to help provide some answers.
The eight-page Accomplishment Report highlights work conducted on both the Ochoco and the Crooked River National Grassland, with information provided on several programs, including timber, grazing, wildfire suppression and prevention, watershed enhancement and special uses. The document features brief paragraph-long descriptions of the programs, augmented by color graphs and photos as well as statistical data.
While such documents are not a new idea for the Forest Service nationally, this represents the first such effort for the Ochoco staff.
"Most national forests produce some kind of annual accomplishment report every year, updating the kinds of work that they get done with tax dollars in the previous fiscal year," said Patrick Lair, public affairs specialist for Ochoco National Forest. "It hasn't been a tradition to do it here, but we decided to go ahead and give it a shot. So we knocked out an abbreviated version, which includes some of the previous years as well, to give an idea of the trends and what kinds of things we have been doing."
The report reveals such details as timber sold by Ochoco National Forest, which has increased from 10.656 million board feet in the 2015 fiscal year to 12.748 million board feet for the 2017 fiscal year. It offers details on the number of fire starts each year dating back to 2008 as well as the number of acres burned on the Ochoco for each of those years, and provides employment and volunteer numbers.
Lair noted that the report was something that recently retired Forest Supervisor Stacey Forson hoped to develop and unlike other accomplishment reports, this one may be produced as frequently as every quarter.
"The target audience is the general public," Lair said. "We get a lot of questions, and there has been a lot of debate over the past few years as far as what the Forest Service does and why. So we really wanted to start getting that information out there to start a dialogue about what kind of funding we receive, what kind of programs we have going, and what our accomplishments have been."
While the ONF document highlights several programs, it doesn't address all of them. Lair acknowledged that certain programs were handpicked for the first run of the report because they have generated the most interest from the local public.
The report is currently available on the Ochoco National Forest website, and copies were also emailed to a number of people, Lair said. People can also pick up a copy at the ONF office.
"We are still trying to figure out what the right place is for a report like this and trying to figure out what people really want to know," he said.
Ochoco staff plan to produce a second report sometime in the spring that will include some different statistics such as contracts awarded, employee amounts or invasive weed treatments. Lair added that if people ask about certain programs, they will try to address those as well.
"It is kind of a test run," he said of the new document. "It is giving people a starting point."