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Timber harvest project is intended to reduce fires and diseases
by Steve Kadel, Herald and News 8/31/07

   A timber harvesting project seven miles west of Paisley is planned to protect Ponderosa pine from insects, disease and fire.
   Paisley Ranger District officials say removing some trees from thick stands will make the remaining pine more able to withstand mountain pine beetle, as well as make them less susceptible to wildfire. Part of the project on the Fremont-Winema National Forests includes burning underbrush to reduce potential fire fuel.
   “They will be considerably more resistant to insects and large fires,” said Rick Elston, project interdisciplinary team leader. “The ability to withstand insects has to do with the vigorousness of growth.”
   About 5,500 acres in the Summer Lake watershed would be affected, with 4,400 acres slated for harvesting and 1,100 additional acres to be burned. Harvesting could begin as soon as this winter, Elston said.
   The Launch Project also is designed to provide wildlife habitat for a variety of species, particularly mule deer habitat on winter range.
   An environmental assessment of the project has been released. Elston said the project began about nine months ago with a public meeting in Paisley.
   “We’ve developed this proposal and an alternative based on feedback we’ve gotten from the public,” he said.
   The proposal lists the acreage of trees of various sizes that will be harvested. A 6.7-mile temporary road would be needed to access 3,201 acres for harvest.
   Other plans call for 703 acres of 12-inch and smaller trees to be harvested, and 264 acres of 15-inch and smaller trees to be harvested.
   The proposal under consideration would produce an estimated 7 million board feet of saw timber, and 3 million board feet of smaller material for biomass or other purposes.
   “I would characterize it as a medium-sized project,” Elston said.
   Removing small trees and underbrush is intended to help prevent catastrophic wildfire, he added.
   “It’s the shorter trees and ground fuels that cause those fires to go up vertically,” Elston said.
   After public comment is received on the proposed alternative, a final decision will be issued. It will contain specifics of the harvesting and burning project.
   Elston said the goal is to issue the decision by the end of September.
   A 30-day “objection period” for the project began Aug. 18. Comments may be sent to reviewing officer Linda Goodman, regional forester, at P.O. Box 3623, 333 SW First Ave., Portland, OR 97208-3623.
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