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BMNRI Home > Publications > Search For A Solution > Chapter 12


Search For A Solution: Sustaining the Land, People, and Economy of the Blue Mountains


Raymond G. Jaindl and Thomas M. Quigley


Although the groups and individuals concerned with ecosystem health in the Blue Mountains have a diversity of viewpoints, values, and beliefs about specific management actions, they are linked by a commonly held feeling of urgency for immediate action (Schmidt et al. 1993). Sustaining the resources, people, and economies of the Blue Mountains region demands coordination and cooperation between all interested individuals and groups. Developing the coordination and cooperation requires an understanding of the basic controlling factors, the resource elements, the numerous simultaneous benefits and demands placed on these resources, and the numerous constraints placed on managers to achieve these benefits and demands.

Using tools to control vegetation mosaics at the landscape level is a highly complex management task that will require an approach that is being described as "adaptive management." Adaptive management is defined as a continuing cycle of action using current societal and scientific information to plan, to act, and as an integral part of management to accumulate information to improve future decisions (Collopy et al. 1993). This approach requires decision aids in the form of interactive forecasting models that act as guides in making choices, and that can be adapted to incorporate advancing knowledge of landscape response to management intervention (Methven and Feunekes 1988).

Restoring ecosystem health in the Blue Mountains must take a holistic approach that addresses more than just dead and dying trees (Stafford and Lorenz 1993, Schmidt et al. 1993). Essentially, restoring ecosystem health will require ecosystem-level management across ownership boundaries. This will generate new challenges in cooperation between the multiple players and the interests they represent.

Restoring ecosystem health in the Blue Mountains requires monitoring (Schmidt et al. 1993), including the implementation of a geographic information system (GIS). Existing GIS programs within other agencies offer the potential for mutually beneficial partnerships (Stafford and Lorenz 1993).

Achieving ecosystem stability in the Blue Mountains while supporting societies and economies will be complex. Wickman (1992) concluded that we need to understand and enhance natural processes by devising silvicultural methods that aid in postoutbreak cleanup, by learning to plant the right species on the right sites, by using prescribed fire and appropriate mechanical means to maintain the desired vegetation, and by conducting fundamental studies of how nature functions on a landscape basis. This will lead to the restoration of natural stand structure and species composition and enhance the retention of biodiversity, which will prevent the inadvertent extinction of species. Even with constant reevaluation of what we learn and maintenance of our long-term objectives, healthy forests will not be achieved overnight. "As many ecologists have pointed out, 'there will be no free lunches'; we now must pay for the billions of board feet of cheap pine logged early in the 20th century. We will pay and pay and probably see little or no return on our investments in our lifetimes" (Wickman 1992).

The alternative to the above scenario is a legacy unacceptable to future generations even though there is no guarantee that our efforts to create and maintain forest communities at the landscape level in perpetuity will succeed. Given the unknowns of future resource demands, economies, climate change, and tree and pest coevolution, the most we can do is try our best to hand down a legacy of diverse, perpetuating natural ecosystems for future generations to enjoy.

Contents of Chapter Twelve:

  • Introduction
  • People and the Blue Mountain Ecosystem
  • Shaping the Blue Mountains
  • Shaping Management
  • The Need for a Systems Management Approach
  • Landscape Perspective
  • Difficulties in Achieving Ecosystem Management
  • Finding a Solution
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Natural Resource Research
  • Developing a Research Framework
  • Conclusion

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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