SISTERS, Ore. - Starting April 15, more than 2,100 trees are scheduled to be cut down and removed along Highway 20 west of Sisters.
The move is in response to the Oregon Department of Transportation spraying herbicide along the highway to kill weeds back in 2013 to 2015 that ended up killing some trees as well.
The U.S. Forest Service released a decision memo this week authorizing the removal of the dead or dying trees.
The Forest Service had crews out evaluating trees last fall to look at the amount of disease. They found more trees had faded out over time, about 500 more than anticipated.
Sisters District Ranger Ian Reid said Wednesday the number of trees that need removal may still go up even more.
"(The number) 2,109 is what we came up with last fall, and some more trees are likely to have faded out over the winter," he said. "So that number may be a little bit higher by 100 trees or so once we get into the operational period."
The main type of tree being removed is Ponderosa pine. There are also small numbers of Douglas firs, grand firs, and lodgepole pines.
"Our intention is to use a majority of the trees for forest projects," Reid said. "So that would be sold to a timber purchaser who would take those trees to a mill.”
“If that can't happen for some reason, we would look at firewood, potentially, or some other type of usable forest product," he added
Some trees being removed were not affected by herbicide. They will be cut down but remain in the forest for wildlife habitat.
A few other trees have been authorized for topping, instead of removal. They also be for wildlife habitat.
The herbicide Perspective was applied along the highway to control weeds and brush, and it “contains an active ingredient now known to harm ponderosa pine and other trees,” the decision signed by Reid last Friday states. The use of Perspective was discontinued on Northwest national forests once the link was determined.
To see the full decision memo, go to the U.S. Forest Service website.