Forest Service seeks contractors for projects

IRONWOOD -The U.S. Forest Service is looking for contractors that might be interested in working on the Ottawa National Forest.

In 2003, Congress granted the U.S. Forest Service a new tool to accomplish work on the National Forests. This tool, called stewardship contracting, allows on-the-ground projects to be paid for from Forest Service timber sales. Locally, many projects have been completed across the Ottawa National Forest using this method..

The Forest Service is planning more projects in the future, and wants to create a list of contractors interested in helping.

Victoria Hahka is the Ottawa National Forest stewardship coordinator, and explained what the Forest Service is looking for:

“For decades the Forest Service has worked with local loggers, offering contracts for timber harvests to promote forest health and provide wood products. When we have a new timber sale, we notify people on our list of timber harvesters, and invite them to submit bids. With stewardship contracting, we need to create another list, a list of contractors interested in other kinds of work. Work may include general construction, timber stand improvements, road and trail work, wildlife habitat enhancement, reforestation activities, fuels treatments, and non-native invasive plant control.”

Stewardship contracting helps the Ottawa National Forest achieve land management goals while meeting local and rural community needs, including contributing to the sustainability of rural communities and providing a continuing source of local income and employment.

The objective of stewardship contracting is to accomplish resource management with a focus on restoration. Stewardship authority allows the Ottawa to exchange the value of the timber sold for the cost of service work items.

Hahka explained how interested contractors can get on the Ottawa’s stewardship contracting list. “For anyone interested in stewardship contract work on the Ottawa, we have a one-page form for them to complete and send to me. Go to the Ottawa National Forest timber sale web page at fs.usda.gov/goto/ottawa/timbersales. Find the “vendor information request,” fill it out, and send to me.”

Hahka can be reached at the Watersmeet Ranger District, E 23979 US 2, Watersmeet, MI 49912, (906) 358-4049, vhahka@fs.fed.us.

“Stewardship Contracting offers many benefits and opportunities for the Ottawa National Forest to meet local community needs and address restoration concerns across the Forest,” said Acting Forest Supervisor Steve Lenzo. “This new tool is an outstanding opportunity to reinvest timber receipts to benefit local businesses and complete restoration projects on the landscape.”