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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow FOREST PROJECT GETS GREEN LIGHT

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FOREST PROJECT GETS GREEN LIGHT

Life is great when a good plan comes together.

After waiting several months to get an innovative forest management project approved, La Grande District Ranger Kurt Wiedenmann got the news a few days ago.

His plan for a new type of forest management project was approved by the U.S. Forest Service.

Not only was the plan approved, the Forest Service will use it as a model for other management projects throughout the nation.

Wiedenmann has been working on a plan to restore the 3,000-acre area known as Sprinkle near Spring Creek. Many of the trees were destroyed in a spruce budworm epidemic about 10 years ago.

The acres were heavily logged a number of years ago and in addition to the spruce-budworm kill, the area contains large numbers of underbrush and smaller competing trees, such as white fir, Wiedenmann said.

The contractor will bid on usable logs and on a restoration plan that includes removing some of the underbrush and placing some large logs for wildlife habitat. Part of the area will be ignited in a prescription fire.

The new plan, which involves only one contractor, is a goods-for-services operation. The contractor bids on the purchase of timber and on his costs to restore the forest. If the price paid to the ranger district by the contractor for the logs exceeds his costs of restoration, the district will end up with a surplus that could go to other stewardship forest management projects.

Areas of 150-feet deep adjacent to stream banks will remain untouched, Wiedenmann said, and some large logs will be moved to a nearby area that now has no downed trees to improve wildlife habitat.

Jeff Hammes, administrative officer for the ranger district, said he expects a contract for the work to be awarded in either late spring or early summer and work could begin as early as this summer.

Approval for the innovative contract came in a letter from the Washington, D.C., office. The letter indicated that after certain technical issues have been settled, similar contracts may be awarded throughout the national forest system. At this time, the Sprinkle project is the only one in the La Grande Ranger District to receive permission for the goods-for-services contract.

— Alice Perry Linker

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