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We are saddened at the recent announcement of the Ochoco Lumber mill closure. For the past 60 years, the Forest, the Community of Prineville and Ochoco Lumber have worked hard and contributed a great deal to the health and sustainability of the Ochoco National Forest. Healthy watersheds, clean water, abundant wildlife and fish populations and productive healthy forests are values shared by us all and are a key part of our quality of life in Central Oregon. The Ochoco National Forest has been actively managed to accomplish these things using many tools including partnerships such as those with Ochoco Lumber.
   A lot of changes in natural resource management have occurred in six decades. Ochoco Lumber has been with us at each step. The Forest Service has gone from its past focus on providing abundant timber for a growing nation to using a variety of vegetation treatments, including commercial harvests, to restore forest ecosystems and watersheds, reduce fuels, and ensure habitat for the future.
   John Shelk and Ochoco Lumber have been influential and supportive of the Ochoco National Forest and the community of Prineville in many ways. Ochoco Lumber has shared their strategic thinking through forest planning in the 80's, on forest health issues and the Interior Columbia River Basin planning efforts in the 90's, and advised us in our new approaches to achieve Viable Forest Ecosystems.
   They have provided the community and the Forest strong leadership and advice on land management issues by continually demonstrating their commitment to careful land stewardship and willingness to try new approaches on the ground. Their efforts towards good land stewardship and their value as a community partner to the people of Crook County will be missed. Ochoco National Forest employees readily attest to the courteous and professional relationships they have always shared with Ochoco Lumber employees. On behalf of the Forest Service, I am thankful and appreciative for the contributions made by Ochoco Lumber over the past six decades.
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