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Forest project will reduce fire danger, insect damage
More than 36,000 acres of forest restoration work planned within the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area will control insects and disease and improve timber and streamside health.
The Puderbaugh Vegetation Management project is available for review by the public until March 5, and can be accessed on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest website.
The project is 22 miles southeast of Joseph and includes part of the Imnaha River Wild and Scenic Corridor and forest between Summit Ridge and Puderbaugh Ridge on the east and Blackhorse Ridge to Jaynes Ridge on the west.
The project’s goal is to restore forest health in this part of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and create a fuel break along Forest Road 3965. The ridge along Forest Road 3965 is the most defensible location for fuel break construction and has been used in the past to prevent the spread of wildfires beyond the wilderness.
Underburning would reduce down material on 16,158 acres. Whip falling would be used to treat ladder fuels on approximately 739 acres. Low intensity prescribed burning would occur after these treatments in areas that support fire-tolerant ecosystems. Ladder fuels would be reduced by thinning and grapple piling small trees 200 feet on both sides of the road. Material within 100 feet of the road may be made available for firewood gathering. Otherwise the piled material would be burned. The strategic fuel break treatments would occur on approximately 404 timbered acres, along more than 9 miles of the road.
The analysis said that a variety of insects put the large ponderosa pine at risk along the Imnaha River Corridor. Small projects have been completed in the corridor to keep beetle populations in check and retain as many of the remaining legacy pines as possible. One of the most effective tools for reducing the number and spread of beetles present has been removal of the infested trees prior to the flight of the beetles into nearby trees. Trapping efforts have also been successful, removing as many as 300,000 western pine beetles annually. It is predicted that this number of beetles could kill nearly 300 large legacy trees per year.
How to view the document
The Puderbaugh Vegetation Management project can be accessed on the U.S. Forest Service website at www.fs.usda.gov/projects/wallowa-whitman/landmanagement/projects, or request a CD or hardcopy by contacting Jodi Feiling at 541-426-5521.
If you have any questions, contact District Ranger Kris Stein at 541-523-5546.