Veterans restore Oregon forest with nonprofit

Patriots Restoration Ops, or PROPS, is a nonprofit dedicated to helping our nation’s veterans and forests.
Published: Nov. 9, 2023 at 10:56 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Patriots Restoration Ops, or PROPS, is a nonprofit dedicated to helping our nation’s veterans and forests.

According to Gabe MacDougall, PROPS Vice President of Development, they have a two-fold approach to their mission.

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“First, we do the work on the ground to improve our forest and to improve our wildlife areas,” MacDougall said. “The second part of that mission that PROPS is extremely focused on is to offer a landing spot for our veterans. As our veterans transition out of their military careers, they can have another career they can fall in love with.”

PROPS said it recognizes a need for an increased skilled workforce in forest restoration, so the organization works with veterans to provide comprehensive training in forestry, equipment operations, prescribed fire management and various other skills crucial to conservation efforts. Then it partners with other organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation to work on stewardship projects.

“The mission of the National Wild Turkey Federation is the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage,” said Molly Pitts, NWTF’s Wildlife Crisis Manager. “We have been doing work with the Forest Service for over 40 years including forest management, habitat restoration, wildfire risk mitigation, among other works.”

In the past, the groups have worked with the California Deer Association and the USDA Forest Service in the Klamath National Forest removing portions of trees and fire salvage, thinning the stand to reduce the risk of future wildfires.

Now, NWTF and PROPS are partnering again in the Fremont-Wimena National Forest in Oregon.

“It’s about 5,000 acres,” Pitts said. “That includes thinning and meadow restoration work. We are also doing a really neat meadow restoration program where we are removing trees that have encroached on the meadow and restore them back to their native landscape and to help emphasize the important habitat that meadows provide.”

The wide range of restoration work includes removing forest byproducts from the ground, controlled burns, machine operation and more. Work began back in September.

“South Central Oregon is a pretty amazing project,” MacDougall said. “There was a need that the Forest Service saw to develop and improve some of the lands they have. If we are looking in South Central Oregon, Northern California and the Pacific Northwest we are seeing impacts from a lot of wildfires and things damaging the landscape. There’s a need to be stewards of the land. It’s a strong passion of ours to not only take care of it for us today, but to improve it and leave it better than we found it for the next generations.”

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A veteran himself, MacDougall says it’s important to their PROPS to help those who have served and allow them another way to help their country.

“Our veterans have done so much for our country,” MacDougall said. “We feel it’s out duty to give back a little bit. It’s extremely rewarding going through the work day, lifting your head up and see what you’ve done. You have that sense of accomplishment and knowing that you are helping out the future. We want that feeling to be there for the veterans.”