Forest Service to address travel safety risks
March 11, 2021 | View PDF
Damaged and dead trees identified on 550 miles of roads
The Holiday Farm, Beachie Creek, and Lionshead Fire burned more than 176,000 acres on the Willamette National Forest in 2020. Since then standing dead and injured trees have been identified along about 411 miles of open roads across three of the Forest’s ranger districts, as well as about 139 miles of closed roads. Forest spokesmen say the fire-killed or injured trees pose a danger and the areas remain closed, “Until safety concerns are addressed and the danger trees are abated.”
To reduce the risk, the Willamette Forest is proposing to fell dead and injured trees within the fire-burned areas, which. “Would also provide employees safer access during both fire recovery and future fire suppression efforts.”
The sections of roads have varying levels of fire-killed or injured trees depending on how severely the fire burned in the area. There are portions where there are no danger trees, others with scattered individuals or small groups of danger trees, and more where all trees within striking distance of the road were killed by the wildfire. Plans call for danger trees which may strike the road to be felled where they’re found and trees which do not threaten the roads would be left standing.
Danger trees are defined as, “Any tree, or portion of a tree, that could cause injury or death to people or property because of damage or defect.” To determine which trees need to be removed, Forest Service specialists will consult the Region 6 Danger Tree Policy Guidelines. Danger trees, regardless of their size, which are within one-tree height of the road would be felled. Trees which lean away from and would not strike the road when they fall would be left standing. Additional trees within 1.5 tree heights from the road may be felled in areas of high use or where people stop, such as intersections, dispersed camping areas, viewpoints, parking areas, and pull outs.
The project outline says felled trees would be used for a variety of purposes. Some would stay on-site to reduce the risk of sedimentation run off and provide wildlife habitat, some may be used for restoration projects as fish and wildlife habitat logs, while others would be sold to local mills to become wood products, or be offered through permits for firewood to the local community.
If trees are removed through a timber sale, harvest operations would include the use of ground-based and skyline logging systems. Some of the funds generated from timber sales would be used for watershed restoration and reforestation projects.
Generally, danger trees within Riparian Reserves, Late Successional Reserves, known large concentrations of noxious weeds, known culture resource sites, and trees felled beyond one tree height of the road would be left in place on site. Danger trees may still be removed from areas if they can’t be safely felled away from the road, be a danger to the road or disrupt flow through a drainage structure
Public comments on the proposed action have a March 22nd deadline to be considered in the final design of the project.
Comments may be submitted through the project website or by email, mail, or facsimile.
Project webpage: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=59519. Select the “Comment on Project” link in the “Get Connected” group at the right-hand side of the webpage. Email with 2020 Fires Roadside Danger Tree Reduction Project in the subject to the project lead at [email protected] Mailed or faxed to Willamette National Forest Supervisors Office, Attn: 2020 Fires Roadside Danger Tree Project, 3106 Pierce Parkway Suite D, , Springfield, OR 97477; Fax 541-825-3110.