Anchor Forest: Sustainable Forest Ecosystems through Cross-Boundary, Landscape-Scale Collaborative Management
Mark Corrao, Northwest Management, Inc.
The purpose of the Anchor Forest project was to develop a viable framework for institutionalizing collaborative cross-boundary forest ecosystem management, and to assess science-based metrics in order to overcome forestland fragmentation, maintain working forests, and sustain ecosystem services at a landscape scale.
Nation-wide more than 1,009 sawmills, 15 pulp mills, and 148 other mills have been closed since 2005 (Smith and Guldin, 2012) and in the wake of the 2014 and ‘15 fire seasons many forest land owners and managers throughout the West witnessed a marked change in the very resource we work daily to protect and hold near and dear to our families and livelihoods. Today with an ever-increasing urban population culturally removed from the functions of forestry and silviculture and an unparalleled flush of people from these areas into the wildland urban interface it is no surprise to see the resource decisions and practices available to forestland managers become exponentially more complex.
In the true spirit of a natural resource manager the Anchor Forest project took on the task of contextualizing the dynamic of diminishing infrastructure, jobs, funding and management tools with an exploding need to provide for the resource and the public in some “balanced” fashion. Therefore, the Anchor Forest project itself was an assessment of (1) forest land health and the forestry industry, (2) available infrastructure and (3) current capacity, (4) stakeholder interests / participation, (5) currently available support-funding mechanisms, and (6) forest ecosystem services on nearly 2.7 million acres across eastern Washington. And the Anchor Forest assessment reports were then completed
in March 2016 by Northwest Management, Inc. and included more than 480 peer-reviewed publication references, 1,000 surveys and responses from numerous stakeholder workshops completed over a 3-year period.
Again in true “forester” fashion the need for actionable findings that could be applied to the land was a critical part of contextualizing the challenges our forests face. Therefore within the Anchor Forest Final Report a summary of measurable metrics, actionable goals and a balance of landscape-scale social/cultural, economic, and ecologic management options were tied to recommendations that targeted maintaining ecosystem function and working forests. The findings and recommendations provide metrics for measuring success of invested resources that address deteriorating forest health conditions, maintenance of working forests, and the jobs, wages and revenue needed to sustain many rural communities throughout the western U.S. using eastern Washington as an example.
This project was initiated and funded by the US Forest Service through cooperation with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Intertribal Timber Council. The executive summary, final report and individual task-assessment reports are all available online at www.Anchorforest.org and on the Northwest Management, Inc. website under featured projects – Anchor Forests at www.TheNMIWay.com.