News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Forest Service finalizes plan on roads

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

The U.S. Forest Service has finished its plans to cut damaged or dead timber on lands affected by the 2020 wildfires.

The Forest Service issued notice Nov. 30 of its decision, while also indicating its conclusion that the approach will have “no significant impact” on the surrounding environment.

In a letter released Dec. 5, Forest Supervisor David Warnack said, “based on my review of the environmental assessment and considering the need for the proposal, the environmental impacts of the proposed action, and the input we received through public comments, I have decided to implement the proposed action.”

The notice includes plans to cut and salvage near approximately 250 miles of fire-affected roads across about 4,380 acres of land.

“The roads were included in the proposed action,” Warnack wrote,  “because they were identified as important access routes with specific access needs which are described for each individual road. Once trees are fallen, the project will also remove fallen trees and fine fuels within 100 feet of the road (about 4,140 acres) to reduce fuel loads.

 “At the same time, a sufficient amount of fallen material will be left on the ground to provide erosion control, long-term soil productivity, microclimate for recovering vegetation, and coarse woody debris for wildlife habitat.”

During the review process for the notice the Forest Service received objections from the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center, Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild and Willamette Riverkeepers regarding the Opal Creek area.

As a result, the 3.2 miles of Forest Service Road 2209 from the Opal Creek Wilderness Area trailhead gate to Jawbone Flats has been removed from the list of roads to be treated. Once that decision was made, “these organizations agreed to withdraw their objections,” Warnack said.

The project includes tracts in Marion, Linn and Lane counties.

The Forest Service is working to pick up the pieces after the 2020 Beachie Creek, Lionshead and Holiday Farm fires burned 571,000 acres of state, private and federal land, including 176,000 acres in the Willamette National Forest. The fires killed 5 people and destroyed more than 1,500 structures in the Santiam Canyon, with Detroit and Gates suffering the greatest damage.

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