Comments sought on contested Trapper Project
MCKENZIE BRIDGE: The McKenzie River Ranger District is seeking public input on the Revised Trapper Project, located north of the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest. The Trapper Project was part of a 1997 study designed to use timber harvest and prescribed fire to emulate natural processes.
The latest plan is the result of a 2011 court directive to the Forest Service to review the project and determine impacts to the Northern Spotted Owls as well as the learning value of the project, while also complying with changing standards for environmental review. The result includes significant changes.
“The main difference between the original and revised project is the reduction of harvest from 149 acres to 44 acres,” said Terry Baker, the McKenzie River District Ranger. “Additionally, impacts to Northern Spotted Owls will be significantly less than in the previous project and we expect there will be no adverse effects to water quality or fish habitat.”
Officials said the Forest Service is proposing to complete the project in order to respect contractual commitments with the sale purchaser, while still protecting sensitive species habitat. The reduction in the acres between the two projects is largely due to changes in data collected for sensitive species.
The project’s initial intent was to explore new management ideas and provide both quality long term wildlife habitat and timber products. The original Trapper Project proposed to harvest 149 acres, removing approximately 50% of the trees through a timber sale, followed by a prescribed burn intending to kill many of the remaining live trees—ultimately reducing the stands to a 15% canopy cover. The result would be a stand with an overstory of large live and dead standing trees, similar to what would be seen following a high-severity wildfire.
The Revised Trapper Project proposes to harvest approximately 75% of the standing trees on approximately 44 acres and use prescribed fire to underburn approximately 36.
The original Trapper Project was sold to Seneca Jones Timber Company in 2003. Seneca filed paperwork to initiate harvest in August 2010. On-going studies found spotted owl nest sites had changed, prompting the Forest Service to suspend operations. Two environmental groups filed a lawsuit to halt the sale and the judge then ordered a revision of the project. The Revised Trapper Project is the result of that revision.
To review the project, go to www.fs.usda.gov/willamette and click on Trapper. Comments are due on March 11th and should be submitted to Trapper@fs.fed.us. A public meeting will be held to explain the project in early March.
McKenzie River Reflections