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Blue Mountains National Resources Institute

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BMNRI Home > Publications > Conference Proceedings > Blue Mountains Biodiversity

Conference Proceedings

Blue Mountains Biodiversity Conference

Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA May 26-29, 1992

This conference, co-sponsored by BMNRI, was directed to land managers and members of the public interested in enhancing biodiversity in the Blue Mountains of northeast Oregon and southeast Washington. The conference sought to:

  • Increase understanding about what is known about biodiversity--the science, the observations, the management situation, and the legal requirements.
  • Identify the role of biodiversity in maintaining/restoring forest health in the ecosystems of the Blue Mountains.
  • Increase understanding of the problems in and threats to the forest, what's being done, and what should be done.
  • Identify the role of fire and other management tools in the establishment and maintenance of landscape-level biodiversity.
  • Identify opportunities for monitoring, adaptive management, and research in biodiversity.

The conference agenda included presentations on concepts and theory of biodiversity, legal and social aspects of biodiversity, management perspectives of biodiversity, risk and role of fire, silviculture, ungulates, non-game wildlife, and fishes.

Concurrent sessions explored levels/kinds of biodiversity, cultural values of biodiversity, planning to achieve biodiversity, and implementation and monitoring.

Conference sponsors were BMNRI; the Wallowa Whitman, Malheur, and Umatilla National Forests; Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla; National Audubon Society; and Blue Mountain Native Forest Alliance.

The keynote speaker was Jerry Franklin, Bloedel Professor of Ecosystem Studies, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. He began with the theme echoed by many others throughout the week: the need to focus on ecosystems rather than species. There are too many species to do management species-by-species. In doing so, we are doomed to failure. Biodiversity is more than just species diversity and includes functional, compositional, and structural diversity.

If we provide habitats appropriate for species diversity, we enable ecosystems to function, enhancing species health. Much is unknown about the function of smaller micro-organisms, especially in belowground subsystems, and they are vital to forest ecosystems. Also, although forest reserves are important, we need to focus on the larger task of stewardship on all landscapes. Reserves alone will not ensure loss of ecosystem function and species. Specific to the eastside of Oregon and Washington, Franklin recommended limiting clearcutting, and allowing fire in the ecosystem.

Concluding remarks were given by Hal Salwasser, USDA Forest Service, Washington, D.C. He reiterated the need to plan on the ecosystem level. Such large-scale planning necessitates integration of resource disciplines and cooperation among landowners. Sustainable, healthy ecosystems require consideration of the land, the people, economic prosperity, and equity and balance. Resource management and resource use must be balanced. We must be careful not to overproduce at the expense of ecosystem health. We must also guard against shifting our resource demands to other nations as a result of over-protecting our resources. In making difficult management decisions, managers and policymakers need to focus on objectives, plan for change, think in different scales, think ahead at least one generation, maintain options, and involve the public.

US Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station, Blue Mountains National Resources Institute
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:18:43 CST

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