Millions of forests in the interior West face a high risk of catastrophic wildfires. The main cause of the problem is a buildup of undergrowth and small trees that cause wildfires to burn fiercely. A major initiative is underway to remove excess fuels in high-risk areas, but the lack of markets for small trees is a problem.
In 2001, the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) launched the Central Oregon Partnerships for Wildfire Risk Reduction (COPWRR) Project, whose goals are to reduce wildfire risk, enhance ecosystem health, and improve forest-based economies. The group identified a key need: a dependable supply of small diameter wood to attract businesses. The region’s supply of small wood fluctuated over the years, a factor in stalling investments in technology and employment.
The COPWRR created a Coordinated Resource Offering Protocol (CROP) initiative to help stabilize the regional wood supply. The Partnership agreed with the principle that ecosystem health, removing excess fuels, and reducing wild. re risk around communities should drive the supply.
The CROP selected two key strategies: 1) fostering markets to utilize biomass material from forest treatments, and 2) developing 10-year stewardship contracts. Stewardship contracts bundle land management tasks within a single long term contract, offering producers a steady supply of work and materials while bene. ting the forest and cutting administrative costs.