JOHN DAY - Oregon Department of Transportation maintenance crews and a tree removal contractor will be working along the John Day-Burns Highway (Highway 395 south), to remove hazard trees. Beginning Tuesday morning and continuing through Thursday or Friday, an estimated 28 cottonwood and black locust trees will be removed between mile points 1.7 and 3, near Canyon City. The trees being removed pose a safety hazard for travelers due to their close proximity to the highway, according to ODOT. Motorists may experience minor delays along this stretch of highway during the project and are reminded to slow down and drive with caution through all work zones.

"There is a history of limb and tree failure along this highway. Some of the black cottonwoods have reached an age, size or condition where the trees are no longer structurally sound or pose a hazard in regards to regular storm events," said ODOT Transportation Maintenance Manager Shane Giffin. In recent months several trees have fallen across the highway. Other trees in the area have also fallen on a vehicle and a private residence. "This is a real safety concern, and we don't want to see someone hurt in the future," he added.

ODOT has been working with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the State Forestry Department, and ODOT's Environmental Department over the past five months to coordinate efforts and ensure only those trees that pose a hazard are removed.

"Over the next 10 years we will be removing and trimming other hazard trees along U.S. Highway 395, north and south of John Day, U.S. Highway 26 and Oregon Highway 7. By coordinating efforts with the other agencies, we've identified some trees to be placed in the streambeds for fish habitat. Others will be stockpiled for future restoration projects," Giffin said. He added that replacement trees would be planted in the area, but far enough away from the highway to prevent hazard issues in the future.

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