Natural Resource Economy

Oregon has a long history of thriving rural economies that rely on available natural resources. With the dramatic loss of timber mills over the past couple of decades, rural Oregon communities have to diversify their industries in order to retain and create new jobs. OCF provides support for communities that are working together to address their challenges and explore new opportunities.

Sustainable Land Management

Excess proliferation of the western juniper has led to a myriad of issues for communities east of the Cascade Mountain Range. Though the western juniper is a native tree of Oregon, it currently behaves more like an invasive species as it crowds out other plants and wildlife and lowers the water table. These issues are hurting the landscape and the economy. Grant support from OCF and other partners led to the creation of a Western Juniper Alliance, managed by Sustainable Northwest, to develop a market for this undervalued and underutilized wood species. The end result is a new enterprise to strengthen rural economies, while simultaneously improving grazing conditions, increasing water tables, and restoring habitat. 

Learn more about the Western Juniper Alliance's activities from Sustainable Northwest

Mid-size Agricultural Production

Infrastructure for mid-size agricultural producers is not easily accessible. As a result, these producers find it hard to grow and add jobs. At the same time, institutional buyers lack access to local healthy foods. To address both of these issues, OCF provided a low-interest loan to EcoTrust's Redd Project to create warehouse space and production facilities for mid-size producers and their institutional customers. Redd West, the first phase of the project, offers offices, a cold-storage facility, commercial kitchens, logistics assistance, and warehouse space to producers. B-Line Urban Delivery handles cycle-based (yes, human-powered pedaling!) restaurant and store delivery to the producers, saving time, energy, and gas. Redd West is utilized by more than 50 regional producers, building a robust and resilient regional food economy that supports rural farmers, ranchers, and fishers.

Learn more about Redd West from EcoTrust. 

Learn More

For more information about OCF's support of the natural resource economy, contact Melissa D. Freeman, director of strategic projects,


If you'd like to contribute to OCF's work in building a stronger natural resource economy, please contact your donor relations officer. If you're new to OCF, start by contacting the philanthropic advisor closest to you. 

Connect with an OCF philanthropic advisor in your region