In 1994, the federal government adopted the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) following 5 years of litigation over the logging of federal forest lands that provided critical habitat for endangered species, including the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina). The NWFP was expected to impact the region’s economy with rural communities experiencing some of the most significant changes. Monitoring changes in social and economic conditions across the NWFP area is a core component of the NWFP monitoring program.
EWP partnered with USDA Forest Service Region 6 and the Pacific Northwest Research Station to conduct the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) 25 year social and economic monitoring. From August to November, 2018, we conducted qualitative, case study-based monitoring work in 10 rural, forest-based communities distributed across the NWFP area. While the results from 137 interviews we conducted do not reflect the experiences of all rural, forest-based communities within the NWFP area , we suggest they point to three main findings:
- Communities that retain extractive forest industries are diverse, but they share some common characteristics related to connectivity to urban areas, commutability, and housing costs.
- Declining well-being is common to communities most isolated from markets and transportation networks, as well as less isolated communities that have retained wood products manufacturing facilities.
- Forest managers seeking to improve forest resilience to climate change may face challenges in rural regions because either forest management and production infrastructure are now absent or available workforce capacity are low.
Further methods and results of our monitoring can be found here:
- Forthcoming USDA Forest Service PNW General Technical Report
- Methods and data appendices for socioeconomic monitoring of nonmetropolitan communities following 25 years of the NWFP (1994-2018).
- Socioeconomic Trajectories of 10 Rural Federal Forest-Based Communities in the American Pacific Northwest
- Changes in Relationships between the USDA Forest Service and Small, Forest-Based Communities in the Northwest Forest Plan Area amid Declines in Agency Staffing.