Forest Views

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Residents of northeast Oregon were surveyed by telephone in an effort to assess individual perceptions of forests and natural resource management. Results show that residents are generally well informed about declining forest health, and they identify active forest management as a high priority. Just over half of residents support increasing public land use fees to pay for forest restoration activities, while only a minority support raising local taxes. Thus, creative policy solutions are likely needed to address the forest restoration funding gap. Residents were nearly unanimous in their belief that natural resources can be preserved for future generations and at the same time used to create jobs.

Compared to a similar survey in 2011, a larger proportion of participants in 2014 prioritize renewable energy development over drilling and exploration for oil, an increasing percentage believe that environmental rules limiting development have been good for their communities, and fewer support the elimination of wolves. These shifts in public opinion appear to be due to changes in perceptions among longtime residents, rather than demographic changes, and suggest that communities may be more receptive to regulations and programs that address ecological restoration and stewardship goals, as well as climate change impacts.