The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area will be undertaking a series of forest restoration activities over the next eight months in areas that can be accessed by the Burdoin Mountain, Catherine and Major Creek drainages trail system.
This is part of an ongoing effort to reduce the potential impacts of catastrophic wildfires and improve forest health.
Oak and Ponderosa pine release work will be happening in upper Catherine creek, Upper Major creek, units adjacent to Courtney road, along Atwood and Cook roads and on Tracey Hill.
This work consists of cutting encroaching shade tolerant conifers to allow more sunlight to reach the oak trees. The smaller diameter cut material will be piled for future burning.
This thinning phase is the first step towards creating a condition that will allow repeated low intensity underburns in some areas.
Helicopters will be visible and trucks hauling logs can be expected on Snowden and Courtney roads.
Burning of cured piles is expected in the fall after significant moisture has returned. Areas that have had the piles burned already may be treated with underburns if the correct conditions exist in late summer or fall.
The areas expected to be in this situation are two units along Courtney road and one unit in the Tracey Hill area.
Prescribed burns are a proactive tool used to achieve a number of objectives including ecosystem restoration and reduction of hazardous fuels (overgrown vegetation). Prescribed burns can help reduce the threat of wildfire, recycle nutrients that increase soil productivity, improve wildlife habitat as well as increase the resiliency of the treated stands to the effects of wildfire.
During any prescribed burns, smoke will be visible locally as well as from Washington State Route 14 and Interstate 84. Where necessary, motorists should reduce speeds and turn on headlights.
The actual day of ignition for any burn projects will depend on several factors including appropriate temperature, fuel moisture, and winds. Burns will only be conducted on days when the State Smoke Management Offices indicate suitable weather conditions for smoke dispersal are present. Fire managers will conduct burns only if all conditions allow for safe and successful burning operations.
For further information, contact Roland Rose, fuels specialist, at 541-308-1723.