Leaburg Forest will get a trim
July 14, 2017
EWEB project to begin July 15
LEABURG: Area residents will gain a look at sustainable forestry next week. The Eugene Water & Electric Board has contracted with Trout Mountain Forestry to create a Stewardship Plan for the Leaburg Forest. As part of its Healthy Forests Clean Water Program, EWEB plans to actively manage 60 acres of the 900-acre property. The project was designed to demonstrate best forest management practices to protect water quality and improve forest health. Work will include protection of sensitive habitat areas, tree thinning and replanting for diversity, and the removal of invasive plants.
The first timber harvest is planned to begin July 15th and will continue through mid-September. The “light-touch” thinning approach aims to enhance growth of the largest trees, while creating gaps to establish new seedlings and native shrubs that benefit wildlife. The project area includes legacy trees, snags, hardwoods and minor conifers that will be retained to increase the age and species diversity of the forest.
“Proceeds from merchantable timber will be used for sustainable forest management, like invasive plant removal and replanting activities, as well as to support other water quality protection programs,” said Karl Morgenstern, EWEB’s source protection manager. Oregon State University Extension Service will be conducting monitoring before and after the thinning treatment in order to measure forest response to these types of management activities.
The Leaburg Forest is a patchwork of properties bordering EWEB’s Leaburg Power Canal, totaling more than 900 acres. The utility purchased the land in the 1920s during construction of the Leaburg hydroelectric project, largely to safeguard the canal from landslides. Since that time the forest has reseeded naturally following pasture abandonment and early logging.
After the early 1970s, activity in the area has been limited to hazard tree removal. The second-growth forest is currently dense and uniform, with low tree vigor and declining growth. Planners believe there is an opportunity to improve forest conditions for fish and wildlife habitat while mitigating fire and nuisance risks and maintaining stable slope conditions above the canal.
Shiloh Forestry will be conducting timber harvest operations. For everyone’s safety, EWEB is advising residents and visitors to avoid the work area. Small-scale harvests are planned on five to 10-year rotations.
About the Leaburg Forest Stewardship Plan:
EWEB’s objective is a diverse forest comprised of native trees and understory vegetation that is resilient to weather, insects and disease while providing a rich wildlife habitat. As part of the utility’s drinking water source protection activities, the plan aims to demonstrate best practices that protect forest health and water quality.
Image Courtesy EWEB. The affected portion of the Leaburg Forest is north of the power canal.
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