In September 2006 the Malheur National Forest issued a decision notice to implement the 16 Road Forest Health Project on the Prairie City Ranger District. It was originally proposed under the Healthy Forest Initiative to reduce fuel loading along the 16 Road, an evacuation route identified as part of the Wildland Urban Interface in the Grant County Community Fire Protection Plan.
In addition to reducing wildlfire risk to the evacuation route, the project was designed to also lessen the risk of wildfire threat to nearby private property and public facilities by creating forest conditions that would moderate potential wildfire intensity and give firefighters a better chance of controlling fires in this area.
Working through a collaborative planning process, the project was expanded to include broader objectives for forest health. Thinning of dense forests reduced their susceptibility to bark beetle outbreaks. Furthermore, conservation measures were proposed for the restoration of aspen sites within the project area and winter logging is planned to protect scenic integrity and soil resources.
The Forest used a stewardship contract, awarded in September of 2007, to implement the project which included 1,144 acres of commercial harvest, comprised primarily of ponderosa pine and white fir, with some lodgepole pine and Douglas fir. The value of the trees harvested paid for 402 acres of pre-commercial small diameter thinning and treatment of slash. Not included in the contract were 2,151 acres of under-burning which began in the Spring of 2007, 158 acres of additional pre-commercial thinning, and future fencing and caging aspen to protect the trees from browsing by elk, deer and other ungulates.
At this point approximately half of the harvest activities have been completed and pre-commercial thinning is expected to begin in June. This first attempt at collaboration and use of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act authority has served as a model for the Forest and similar planning is currently underway on other projects. The Forest is actively working with other partners and is refining use of collaborative processes to achieve effective results.
For more information contact Lance Delgado, District Fire Management Officer at Prairie City Ranger District, Malheur National Forest, (541)820-3802 or at email@example.com.