The Sisters Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest released a draft environmental assessment Friday for a timber salvage project within the Pole Creek fire area. The lightning-caused fire began in early September of last year and burned 26,120 acres, all on the Deschutes National Forest.
Last December, the ranger district began an environmental assessment of a timber salvage project within the Pole Creek fire area. The proposal, as analyzed in the EA, is to harvest only dead trees with no green needles on 980 acres (4% of the burned area),, which will produce 11 MMBF (million board feet) of commercial timber and .8 MMBF of firewood.
Approximately 60% of the fire occurred in land allocations where timber harvest is either not allowed or is allowed with restrictions. No timber harvest is proposed for these areas, which include the Three Sisters Wilderness, Whychus Creek Wild and Scenic River corridor, Inventoried Roadless Area, Late Successional Reserve, and Riparian Reserve land allocations.
Roughly 40% of the fire burned on lands allocated for timber harvest (Matrix land allocation) under the Northwest Forest Plan or in areas outside of the Northwest Forest Plan. All of the proposed timber harvest would occur on these lands (Matrix lands).
The final acreage proposed for harvest was filtered through several criteria. Some primary criteria included: no areas over 30% slope, no construction of new or temporary roads, no white-headed woodpecker habitat and no potential wilderness areas. In addition, design criteria for the project included: use only ground-based logging equipment; leave six wildlife trees per acre; favor large Ponderosa pine for snag retention; no harvesting in nesting, roosting, foraging or dispersal habitat for the northern spotted owl and no removal of primary habitat elements for the northern spotted owl.
Following the publication of a legal notice in the Bend Bulletin on Monday, August 26, a 30-day comment period on the draft EA will begin. The document is available for review at http://data.ecosystem-management.org/nepaweb/nepa_project_exp.php?project=41286 or by contacting Michael Keown, Sisters Districts Planning and Environmental Coordinator, 541-549-7735. Public comments can be taken in writing, over the phone, and in person.