BEND, Ore. -

The Bend-Ft. Rock Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest has released a draft environmental analysis (West Bend Vegetation Project Draft Environmental  Impact Statement) for a project that will treat portions of the forest near Bend, including some popular recreation areas such as Phil’s Trail. 

A 45-day public review and comment period on the project has begun, and the Forest is seeking public engagement in the project.

The goal of the proposed project is to restore the health of the forest and improve its resiliency to disturbance, such as large fires and insects.

The approximately 25,500-acre project, adjacent to the City of Bend’s urban growth boundary, is overly dense and at risk to insects, disease, and wildfire, the agency says.

The proposed project will thin out trees and reduce fuels across a large portion of the area through a series of treatments over several years.

Activities will include:

  • Commercial harvest in combination with fuels treatments;
  • Thinning within older previously planted areas in combination with other fuel treatments;
  • Treating the understory, through thinning and other fuels treatments; and
  • Using only fuel treatments such as mowing and underburning.

The proposed West Bend Vegetation Project area is within the larger Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project landscape, which was selected by the Secretary of Agriculture to focus on collaboration and restoration. 

The West Bend Project was developed and will be implemented through a collaborative process with a group of community stakeholders representing diverse interest such as environmental, recreation, and timber. 

For more information about the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project, go to: www.deschutescollaborativeforest.org.

A 45-day comment period on the Draft West Bend Vegetation Project Environmental Impact Statement began on April 19, 2013.  People interested in commenting can find the document and directions for commenting at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=34238  or by stopping by the Bend-Fort Rock District Office, 63095 Deschutes Market Road, Bend, OR 97701. 

For more information, please contact Beth Peer, Project Coordinator at 541-383-4769.