BEND, Ore. - The Bend-Ft. Rock Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest said Thursday it has issued a final decision approving the West Bend Project, to treat vegetation on about 26,000 acres by the western edge of Bend
The focus of the vegetation management project is to restore the health of the forest and make it more resilient to disturbance events such as wildfire and insect infestations. Implementation will begin in the spring and continue for the next 5-10 years.
Improved forest health will reduce the potential for large-scale loss of the forest, increase public safety and protect adjacent properties in the wildland urban interface.
The project was designed in collaboration with the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project (DCFP) steering committee and is a part of a designated Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act area on the Deschutes National Forest.
Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger who chairs the DCFP steering committee, said of the decision: "Our Central Oregon community has worked together with the Forest Service on the West Bend project to the maintain healthy forests, protect important recreation and economic opportunities and reduce the chance of a wildfire adjacent to Bend. It is a great feeling to see this project move forward to implementation."
As a part of improving forest health the project will maintain and increase important ecosystem components for interior forest wildlife species on the Deschutes National Forest and contribute to supporting forest product jobs in Central Oregon both in the logging and wood product manufacturing industries.
The decision authorizes:
- Commercial Harvest (thinning and lodgepole regeneration harvest), generally followed by understory and fuel treatments on 13,996 acres.
- Understory treatment in combination with commercial harvest (precommercial thinning, ladder fuel reduction, larger diameter planation thinning) on 11,434 acres.
- Understory treatment only on 827 acres.
- Fuels Treatments (brush mowing and/or prescribed burning) in combination with commercial harvest or understory treatment on 18,838 acres, and
- Fuels Treatments only on 4,166 acres.
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 in the spring (prescribed burning) into and continues into the fall (thinning and timber harvest activities) through the implementation of the project.
"We are proud to have worked so closely with the diverse interests represented on the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project, and I believe the quality of work visitors will experience on the ground will increase as a result of this collaboration, "said Kevin Larkin, Bend-Fort Rock District Ranger.
Larkin continued, "We recognize recreationists will be affected by temporary closures as we move forward with implementation and we are committed to providing timely and accurate closure information on our Deschutes National Forest website and other methods. In the long run our goal is to protect these important recreation opportunities."
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/