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Salvage operations set to high priority

Timber salvage activity is surging in the aftermath of the Canyon Creek Complex fire.

By Sean Ellis

Blue Mountain Eagle

Published on September 30, 2015 8:58AM

About 100 loggers, landowners and timber industry representatives attended a meeting in Mt. Vernon Wednesday, Sept. 23, centered around the issue of timber salvage activities, which are surging following the Canyon Creek Complex fire.

About 100 loggers, landowners and timber industry representatives attended a meeting in Mt. Vernon Wednesday, Sept. 23, centered around the issue of timber salvage activities, which are surging following the Canyon Creek Complex fire.

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JOHN DAY — Timber salvage activity is surging in the aftermath of the Canyon Creek Complex fire.

About 100 landowners, loggers and other timber industry representatives attended a meeting in Mt. Vernon Sept. 23 that was organized to provide information about salvage operations.

Ochoco Lumber President Bruce Daucsavage said the Malheur Lumber Company mill in John Day will add extended hours around the first of November.

He said timber affected by the fire needs to be processed quickly, before it loses its value, and the mill is going to work hard to get the timber into the mill as quickly as possible.

Daucsavage said at the meeting his company “lost a significant amount of timber land, just like you did. We’re going to kick this thing into gear as quickly as we can.”

Almost 17,000 acres of private land were burned by the 110,000 acre Canyon Creek Complex fire.

About 91,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land were scorched by the fire and that agency also plans to conduct salvage logging operations as quickly as possible, said Dave Halemeier, district ranger for the Blue Mountain Ranger District.

Forest Service salvage efforts will be focused in moderate to high intensity burn areas and in areas that are reasonably close to a road.

While there are no definite estimates yet, Halemeier said the Forest Service anticipates about 4,000 to 5,000 acres will be available for salvage efforts.

The emphasis will be on conducting salvage operations quickly, he added.

“We need to have the wood cut and off the landscape by June; otherwise, the wood will have no value,” he said.

The goal of the Forest Service salvage operations will be two-fold, Halemeier said: To reduce hazards and use the profits from tree sales to fund restoration efforts.

The fire burned 48,000 acres in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness and there will not be any salvage activities within that area because it needs to be managed as wilderness, Halemeier said.

The first thing private landowners who are planning to conduct salvage operations need to do is contact their Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) stewardship forester, said Ryan Miller, an ODF stewardship forester in John Day.

Private landowners also need to file a notification of operations with the ODF at least 15 days prior to starting salvage work, but people planning to conduct salvage activities should call the department first to make sure the proper process is followed, Miller said.

“ODF needs to be aware of any forest operations,” he told people at the Mt. Vernon meeting. “The main point I want to make is, call us.”

Miller said the department needs to ensure any resource concerns are addressed and a re-forestation plan is in place, but has flexibility to work with landowners to accomplish that.

“Work with us and most of the time we can come to a reasonable solution,” he said, adding ODF has the flexibility to “make that happen in a common-sense manner.”

Landowners can contact an ODF stewardship forester in John Day at (541) 575-1139.

Bob Parker, an Oregon State University extension forester in Baker City, said the university has a host of resources and information to help people assess the survivability of burned trees.

“If you’d like, I’d be more than happy to come out and look at the ground with you,” he said.

Parker can be contacted at (541) 523-6418, and people can also call OSU’s Grant County office at (541) 575-1911.

Lorraine Vogt, a Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist in John Day, said that agency has a program that can reimburse landowners for post-fire erosion control and seeding efforts. She is taking applications through Oct. 16.

Vogt can be reached at (541) 575-0135, ext. 109.

Grant County Deputy Surveyor Jason Hatfield said the fire damaged a lot of section corner monuments and bearing trees, which provide critical evidence for the location of property boundaries and can be expensive to re-establish.

Because these monuments and bearing trees are now more difficult to identify, they are now susceptible to further damage or destruction by post-fire activities such as logging, construction and fence building, Hatfield said.

If anyone suspects a monument or bearing tree is in jeopardy, they should contact the surveyor’s office at (541) 575-1251.

Blue Mountains Forest Partners also plans to conduct a salvage research project that seeks to “develop new management practices that provide economic recovery in a more ecologically informed manner to avoid lawsuits,” said executive director Mark Webb. 

“We plan to work with researchers to develop treatments informed by science that meet specific wildlife needs, identify low-impact treatment areas and monitor these efforts over time to evaluate their effectiveness,” he said.



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