Deschutes County

Mulch from the sky: Helicopter aids fire restoration

2,400 yards of mulch dropped in Pole Creek Fire area

Mulch from the sky: Helicopter aids fire restoration

SISTERS, Ore. - Nearly a year after the Pole Creek Fire sparked near Sisters and burned nearly 27,000 acres, restoration work in underway along Whychus, Snow and Pole creeks. The blaze left the area with blackened trees and bare earth.

"When the fire burned through, here it removed all of that protective layer and exposed a lot of the mineral soil," Deschutes National Forest soil scientist Terry Craigg said Thursday.

On Monday, workers began the task of moving 2,400 yards of mulch to the banks around the creeks. They're using a different method, hauling the the wood chips, one ton at a time, by helicopter.

Soil scientists say too much sediment in the creek could cause damage to fish habitat, water quality and drinking water in Sisters, which is all downstream.

Fortunately, as the fire burned, line was cut around it, leaving behind it's own Band-Aid.

"The understory brush and also small trees were cut, and those materials were then chipped so it's a product of the fire suppression," Craigg said.

Crews say they will spend about a week dropping the material across 100 acres.

For the next year or so, they will be monitoring the effects of their work.

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