Supporting, promoting and funding watershed restoration within and surrounding the boundaries of the Siuslaw National Forest
The Siuslaw Stewardship Watershed Restoration Program (SSWRP) is a forest stewardship partnership between the Siuslaw National Forest (SNF), Cascade Pacific RC&D (CPRCD), and many partners to improve forest health, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat and and the economies of local communities. The partners and stakeholders include local communities, landowners, watershed councils, contractors, government agencies, environmental organizations, businesses, and industry. The program was created in 2002, to fund watershed restoration projects located on lands nearby the SNF (termed Off-Forest Projects) and within in the Alsea, Hebo, Marys Peak, Siuslaw, and Smith-Umpqua-Dunes Stewardship Group areas.
The SSRWP Program promotes whole watershed restoration from headwaters to estuaries through implementation of projects that provide both economic and ecological benefits to improve forest health, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat and local communities.
Purpose and Goal
The SSWRP was created to utilize stewardship [contract] timber sales to fund restoration projects on the Siuslaw NF and nearby private and non-federal lands within the Stewardship Group areas. The primary goals and objectives of the program are to:
- Accomplish critical restoration work;
- Provide community jobs and other economic benefits; and
- Build and maintain relationships among diverse groups of stakeholders.
- reduce forest fragmentation
- provide high value habitat restoration
- control invasive weeds
- improve fish passage
- create wildlife corridors
- improve or decommission degraded roads
Stewardship Program History
During the post WWII era, improved access to interior coastal forests and rivers resulted in booming economies throughout central Oregon coastal communities. Timber harvest and production on the Siuslaw NF was at its peak from 1960-90, averaging 380 million board feet (mmbf) per year. Intensive harvesting practices affected the forest ecosystem and its fish and wildlife populations. Impacts to watersheds included highly eroded streambanks, poor water quality, and impacts to critical fish habitat. Concerns about these impacts were voiced by citizens, stakeholders, local groups, and environmental activists.By 1992 the annual timber harvest was reduced from 380 to 5 mmbf due to the litigation in 1988 that became known as the Headwall Injunction. The Region 6 Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) was approved in 1994. Legal restrictions focused the harvesting of trees to 80 years and younger. The decline of timber harvest revenues severely affected the Siuslaw NF budget as well as the local communities.
From 1995-1998, collaborative efforts between the Siuslaw NF staff and key stakeholders led to the process of addressing critical watershed restoration and forest management issues in and around the forest. Watershed assessments determined that 70-80% of the best habitat for threatened salmon was on private lands in the lower gradient reaches of the coastal watersheds. However, USFS funds were not permitted for use on private lands.
In response to this problem, the Siuslaw NF developed the idea to allow commercial thinning within the Late Successional Reserve areas through stewardship contracting. In 1998 the Wyden Amendment to the Appropriations Act was passed. The Appropriations Act allowed the USFS and BLM to use retained receipts from stewardship contracting for projects that demonstrated improvements to whole watershed health and local communities. Today, these retained receipts are identified as the Stewardship Fund.
Stewardship Contracting on the Siuslaw National Forest
From 1999 to 2002 Congress authorized the USFS to establish 84 stewardship contracting pilot projects nationwide. The Green Thin was the first pilot stewardship contract on the Siuslaw NF, and was awarded in 2002 to Georgia Pacific to thin 900 acres of small diameter trees. In 2003, Congress passed the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (also known as Stewardship Contracting Authority), authorizing the Wyden Amendment for 10 years. Congress granted permanent authority under the 2014 Farm Bill. Today, the SSWRP has funded and restored thousands of acres of watersheds within and surrounding the Siuslaw NF. To learn more about the program history, structure and accomplishments please download the report below.