LA GRANDE — A controversial plan for forest management work in the Red Apple portion of the Mount Emily Recreation Area will go forward, but with a longer timeline than initially thought.

The Union County Board of Commissioners voted 3-0 Wednesday, Jan. 5, to award ReedCo Forestry, of Union County, a contract to do forest management work that will include some logging in the 300-acre Red Apple area of MERA. The contract awarded will pay ReedCo $500 an acre for its work.

The Red Apple area is filled with popular trails for hiking and bicycling and other nonmotorized activities. Its users have expressed concern that forest management work for fire prevention and to boost forest health could damage trails and other portions of the landscape.

The bid awarded calls for ReedCo to do most of the work this winter and in the winter of 2022-23. Original plans were for the work to be completed this winter. The work was delayed, though, because the bidding process for it was postponed to allow Union County officials more time to take public input on the plan.

Sean Chambers, Union County’s parks manager, said he will meet with Jesse Reed, the owner of ReedCo Forestry, to discuss plans for the project.

“The work could start as soon as the middle of next week," Chambers said.

Chambers said the two-year timeframe will reduce the negative impacts of the project. He said it is best to do forest management work in the winter when the ground is harder due to freezing conditions and there is snow cover. This reduces the chance of equipment damaging the land. Chambers said if all the work were done this winter the possibility of damage would be greater since much of it would be done in late winter when the ground is softer.

ReedCo Forestry was the lone bidder for the project. The company is familiar with MERA. In 2021, the company created a 6-mile firebreak along MERA’s Mainline Trail.

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General assignment reporter

Beats include the communities of North Powder, Imbler, Island City and Union, education, Union County veterans programs and local history. Dick joined The Observer in 1983, first working as a sports and outdoors reporter.

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