Central Oregon

Big forest health plan west of Bend advances

Objection period begins; key goals: Cut fire, insect risk

The Deschutes National Forest on Monday released the final environmental impact statement and draft record of decision for the West Bend Vegetation Management Project, a major fuels reduction and thinning effort to improve forest health.

The project was designed in collaboration with the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project steering committee and is a part of a designated project area under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act.   

Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger, who chairs the DCFP steering committee, said, "This time of year reminds us every day how wildfires threaten our communities and our forests. We in Deschutes County are working with the Forest Service to reduce this risk.  I want to leave our children a forest that is healthy. We can't wait any longer."

More information about the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project can be found at www.deschutescollaborativeforest.org/ and information about the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act can be found at www.fs.fed.us/restoration/CFLRP/index.shtml/.

The focus of the project, located in the Deschutes National Forest west of Bend, is to restore the health of the forest and make it more resilient to disturbance events such as wildfire and insect infestations. 

Improved forest health will reduce the potential for large-scale loss of the forest and increase public safety and protect adjacent properties in the wildland urban interface. 

As a part of improving forest health, the project is designed to maintain and improve important ecosystem components for interior forest wildlife species on the Deschutes National Forest. 

In addition, the project would contribute to supporting forest product jobs in Central Oregon, both in the logging and wood product manufacturing industries.

The proposed decision will authorize:

  • Timber harvest on 14,522 acres, primarily focused on thinning second growth ponderosa pine that is approximately 70 to 80 years old;
  • Fuels reduction (mowing and/or prescribed underburning) on 18,950 acres;
  • Thinning in dry mixed conifer to favor fire-resilient ponderosa pine; and
  • Conducting timber harvest in lodgepole pine to promote healthier stands.

The project will be implemented in a manner to ensure popular recreational activities are not significantly impacted. 

Kiosks are posted as Phil's Trailhead, Meissner Sno-Park, and Meadow Day Use area to provide the public with information on what to expect across the project area as implementation begins.

A 45-day objection period (per 36 CFR 218) began Monday, following the publication of a legal notice in the Bend Bulletin.

Information on how the objection process works and the project documents can be obtained on the project web site http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=34238

You can also learn more at http://www.deschutescollaborativeforest.org/

For more information, contact Kevin Larkin, Bend-Ft. Rock Districk Ranger at 541-383-4000 or Beth Peer, Bend-Ft. Rock District Planning and Environmental Coordinator, 541-383-4769.

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