Oregon Wild questions new West Bend project tree-cutting plan

A central Oregon environmental group is questioning a plan to cut down trees it says are among the “last remaining old trees” at the West Bend project near Phil’s Trail.

Oregon Wild released a statement Friday to the media saying the Forest Service told them the trees would be saved.

“During the planning of this logging, the public was informed that it would not include the cutting of old trees.” said Erik Fernandez, Wilderness program manager at Oregon Wild. “But now, at the last minute before the chainsaws and bulldozers arrive, we have learned that will be the case.”

Oregon Wild said the argument for removal is for fuel reduction is not valid because the trees in question have the thickest bark and the greatest resistance to fire, “showing that it does not is not really about fuel reduction but about logging – despite the negative impacts on wildlife, recreation and carbon storage.

“The Great Outdoors” reporter for the Central Oregon Daily
Brooke Snavely will dive into the matter in depth on Monday at 5 p.m.

The organization started an online petition asking the Deschutes National Forest to save these ancient trees.

Meanwhile, officials from the Deschutes Collaborative Forestry Project, co-chaired by Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang and Bend Mayor Sally Russell, released a response saying the trees in question are not technically trees. old, but that they are older than standard blackbark. » trees that are common throughout the West Bend project.

You can read the full answer below:

Longtime stakeholders of the Deschutes Collaborative Forestry Project (DCFP) have raised concerns about some taller trees marked for commercial thinning as part of the West Bend Project on the Deschutes National Forest. (The trees in question are part of Unit 5 of the Euro Stewardship Contract).

The Forest Service’s West Bend NEPA Planning Document and DCFP Recommendations for Restoration in Dry Ponderosa Pine Forests reflect a desire to promote taller, older tree structure in open stands – a stand condition of which we have a deficit since the aggressiveness of ancient forests. logging and fire suppression of the early and mid-1900s in the area.

After hearing about tree marking in this West Bend Project unit, the Collaborative’s steering committee made a field visit in late February to review the unit.

We found that there were trees marked for removal that were larger and older than the typical 60-80 year old second growth ponderosa pine that all stakeholders agreed it was appropriate to cut down to bring densities to sustainable levels and accelerate the growth of the remaining trees. trees.

The trees in question were not necessarily old, but were older and taller than the standard “black bark” trees (60-80 years old) that are very common throughout the West Bend project.

A number of DCFP Steering Committee members did not feel that this unit’s rating aligned with the overall vision of the West Bend NEPA document or the DCFP recommendations and suggested that retaining the oldest and oldest trees tall would move these stands to the desired state of tall and old pines in open stands more quickly.

During the field visit, we began to discuss how our recommendations and follow-up process within the Collaborative and how the process of translating planning into implementation within the Forest Service could be refined to reduce the likelihood of tagging that does not match our shared vision in the future. .

For context, under the West Bend project, there were 14,500 acres of commercial treatments with planned fuel reductions.

The majority of these acres have been implemented at this stage and the DCFP has closely monitored this implementation over the years.

Of the 14,500 acres treated, we can only name about 10 acres where we feared that trees incompatible with our vision would be removed. In the ideal world, that number would be 0 acres, but if 99% of the commercially thinned acres are moving our forest in the right direction, we don’t think it’s appropriate to vilify the Forest Service for the 10 acres, which could be inconsistent. with the overall intention and vision of the DCFP.

The DCFP Steering Committee will meet again on Tuesday to continue our discussion on how to refine our processes and those of the Forest Service to ensure that even higher percentages of treatments implemented meet our vision.

Phil Chang and Sally Russell, co-chairs of the Deschutes Collaborative Forestry Project

Ed Keith, Vice President of the Deschutes Collaborative Forestry Project


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