Conservationists, loggers in Oregon town team up on thinning forests to prevent big wildfires

IndustrialsAssociated Press

Twenty years after the northern spotted owl and salmon practically shut down logging on Northwest national forests, some environmentalists and loggers have become friends by focusing on a shared goal — thinning overgrown forests to prevent catastrophic wildfires.

It's happening in the little timber town of John Day in northeastern Oregon. A group has come together over projects combining forest restoration and timber production on the Malheur National Forest, which had been regularly shot down for years by lawsuits filed by environmentalists.

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The catalyst was the prospect of closing the last mill in the region.

The success of the group has prompted the mill to add an extra shift, and the national forest has hired 40 people to turn out more projects.