South Santiam Community Forest Corridor: Members Formalize Land Deal

South Santiam Community Forest Corridor RARE AmeriCorps participant Laura GoodrichBy Alex Paul, Albany Democrat-Herald
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SWEET HOME — Speaking in Chinuk wawa, the native language of the Grand Ronde tribe, Michael Karnosh said Monday afternoon that “his heart was very happy to be standing here today.”

Karnosh was one of several dozen stakeholders who formalized their commitment to the South Santiam Community Forest Corridor concept by signing a declaration of cooperation at the Jim Riggs Community Center.

The Grand Ronde, Siletz and Warm Springs tribes have all participated in and support the process.

Other participants have included representatives of state and federal agencies, universities, the city of Sweet Home and private landowners, who have spent the last two years developing a long-term vision for the corridor of mixed ownership lands between Sweet Home and Cascadia.

Thomas Maness, dean of the Oregon State University school of forestry emceed the event and was a co-convener along with Cynthia Solie of the project supported by Gov. Kitzhaber’s Oregon Solutions program.

“This is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people,” Maness said. “I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Maness said he sees three keys to success: effective leadership; courage to push forward; and persistence to overcome inevitable resistance from others.

The working group developed 12 key goals. Those goals include:

  • Increasing the physical connection between Sweet Home and the Willamette National Forest via the South Santiam corridor.
  • Helping improve the quality of life for local residents.
  • Provide for public access to natural resources and the South Santiam River.
  • Promote improved natural health through management and restoration actions within the watershed and implementation of conservation education programs.

Participants were invited to sign copies of the declaration of cooperation, as well as two posters featuring the logos of participating agencies or groups.

“This area has so many wonderful assets, now we have a process to knit them together,” said county commissioner Will Tucker. “I believe that the Cascadia cultural site (Cascadia Cave) should be considered a world heritage site. Linn County definitely wants to be a partner with Sweet Home.”

Jamie Damon of the Regional Oregon Solutions Team said she is especially interested in seeing the collaborative process succeed, because she’s from Estacada, a community much like Sweet Home in size, economic condition and proximity to the national forest and a major river.

“I’m excited to see what can be replicated, not only in Estacada, but in other communities across the state,” Damon said.

Oregon Solutions program manager Steve Bryant said he grew up in Albany and served as city manager there for many years, but he never realized “what was here.”

“The people of the Sweet Home area are deeply passionate about this community and its future,” Bryant said. “They have lived through tough times and want to build a future with different economics.”

He said Sweet Home is “ripe to take off … for others to discover this rich, abundant forest corridor.”

He called the document a “blueprint” for the future.

Dave Furtwangler is president of Cascade Timber Consulting, which manages more than 140,000 acres of timberlands in Linn County. He has been active in the process in part because the lands his company manages border state and federal lands and because the Cascadia Cave is on CTC property.

The cave was a meeting point for tribes for thousands of years and features drawings dating back centuries. Vandals have caused concerns for many years and Furtwangler said he hopes there is a way to move the cave into public ownership where it can be protected, yet open to the public on supervised tours.

Janet Quinn lives in the Cascadia area, which she said has “world class scenery.”

She praised the stakeholders for their hard work and added, she “can’t wait to see what happens.”

The Sweet Home All Lands Collaborative will serve as the governing structure for the corridor.

Sweet Home District Ranger Cindy Glick, who has been instrumental to the project since its inception, was unable to attend Monday’s signing event due to other work commitments, but Willamette National Forest Supervisor Meg Mitchell was present and said it was “amazing.”

“We are very committed to working across boundaries and land ownerships,” Whitman said. “It takes a lot to bring all three tribes to the table, plus all of the other groups.”

Laura Goodrich RARE Participant Resource Assistance for Rural EnvironmentsLaura Goodrich, a RARE AmeriCorps particpant (Resource Assistance for Rural Environments) placed in Sweet Home, Oregon is assisting with this new effort to organize a community forest for multiple social, economic, and ecological outcomes. The City of Sweet Home and a number of other entities, including the Sweet Home Economic Development Group, US Forest ServiceSouth Santiam Watershed CouncilLinn County Parks and Recreation have been participating in an Oregon Solutions project to develop a “South Santiam Community Forest Corridor”.  Laura is directly providing much needed local community capacity building and assisting with the implementation of all agreements made through the Oregon Solutions process.

Stories from the Field: A RARE AmeriCorps Perspective

A Freezing Day in The Life…


An intense freeze at the beginning of December had many farmers scrambling to harvest and cover their crops before hunkering down to wait out the cold temperature and see whether their crops survived. La Finquita del Buho community support agriculture (CSA) in Hillsboro was one of those farms. As a RARE AmeriCorps member serving to complete a grassroots community food assessment for Washington County, I have been trying to help out farmers with simple tasks so as not to take away from their precious time to interview and learn about their farms.

La Finquita del Buho community support agriculture (CSA) Jessica Abad RARE Resource Assistance for Rural EnvironmentsLa Finquita del Buho owned by Lyn and Juvencio had been preparing for their last CSA basket harvest of the year when news of the impeding freeze surfaced. Knowing the freeze was coming they contacted me to let me know that I could still come talk to them, but that they were hoping to have the hands on work completed by the time I visited. As an eager RARE AmeriCorps member excited to have a day in the field to get my hands dirty, I gladly offered to come out earlier and help them to prepare for the winter weather.

My day on Lyn and Juvencio’s farm aimed to start in the early morning, but had to be pushed back to mid-morning to allow the plants to thaw before harvesting. Once the sun started shinning, the cold weather gave way to the sun and thawed enough for us to begin the harvest. By this time, two of the CSAs loyal customers had come out to assist in the day’s activities and things were well underway. The men took off to collect the brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and more, while the women took off for the warm hoop house to gather the spinach, kale, and mixed lettuce varieties for a salad mix.

freezing-2Once the bulk of the produce had been collected we took to cleaning and preparing them for storage. The winter squash, pie pumpkins, and onions, which Lyn and Juvencio had tirelessly worked to harvest the day before were cleaned and place in the insulated the barn to avoid freezing and rot through the winter and we took to the fields to wrap up the remaining harvest work for the day.

In my 11 months exploring the food system of rural Washington County, experiences such as my day on La Finquita del Buho helps to give me a better understanding of the work that goes into food production and helps me to formulate ways to help the rural parts of the county create a sustainable local food system.


Jessica Abad RARE Resource Assistance for Rural EnvironmentsAbout the Author: Jessica Abad received her Bachelor of Arts in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She served with Peace Corps in Senegal working as an Agroforesty Extension Agent on an array of rural community development projects. Jessica’s RARE AmeriCorps – Resource Assistance for Rural Environments placement is with the Oregon Food Bank, where she is conducting a comprehensive inventory of regional food systems and resources in Washington County, examining local food self-sufficiency including local retail, livable wage farming, and local farmers markets, and working to form partnerships with the local farming and agricultural community as a means to increase involvement, and to increase the ability to produce and market locally grown products.