October 17, 2023
Attendees: Tom & Gayle Casselman, Ken & Shirley Jaynes, Cameron Scott, Kirk Flannigan, Kevin Keown, Slater Turner, Jennifer (Jen) Abernathy, Frank Porfily, Irene Jerome, Mark Maboll, Vickie Dunaway, Kit Dickey, Jonathan Kochersberger, Scott McFarland, Sarah Kaschmitter, Jona Ensley, Ella Rowan, and Janet Hutchison.
Ochoco National Forest Parking Lot: Jen indicated that the comment period ended on the Mill Creek EA and the NEPA Planners are reviewing the comments which included 13 lengthy comment letters. They expect to have the review period and a Notice to go out at the end of November or December.
Jen indicated that this was a stand proposed for treatment of veg management and to address the tree mortality. Their goal is to mitigate risks to a fire tolerant stand and that was what was historically present. Douglas and Grand Fir are susceptible to insect and disease. This stand at the capacity is now the insects are starting to come in now to kill the trees. They are looking at the size and species of the trees. This is a category 2 age stand, most of the trees came up at the same time. There is more density than she would like. She would like a mix of Douglas fir and ponderosa pine. They would like to remove smaller trees down to 1/3, retain 80% ponderosa pine and leave 4-5 of the largest pine. They propose non-commercial thinning and burning the slash piles. The burn season would likely be spring/fall burn depending on wildlife in the area and it would be a low intensity burn. Jona discussed the under burn treatment, what they can’t burn in piles, now they can do a few thousand burn days by aerial ignition and taking the burns to control features, such as roads and natural features. They are proposing 6-8 burn blocks. Some trees will be lost during this treatment or you lose all the trees in a wildfire event. Andrew indicated that they want to enhance wildlife habitat while keeping healthy and resilient forests.
Lunch and then Riparian Area discussion next to a Recreation Site.
Kirk made a few comments before he had to leave. Kirk indicated that this Mill Creek Project is critical and very important to them. He indicated that it was nice to see so many people from the collaborative in attendance today. The collaboratives help us to get our work done. It is important to do thinning and understory burn and for the collaborative to continue to share the message.
Jon showed us that this riparian area has an old road through it, a perineal stream, a fairway with permitted cattle. Historically the stream was narrow and deep in some places and a meadow (flood plain). What do we want to see in the Riparian areas? Currently the water stops in July and then typically comes back in November. Bank stability entails 25-year stream rehabilitation and soil disturbance. Desired condition is water is recharged and localized in the channel system. Active management in the riparian area is the ay to achieve it, through mechanical treatment. With mechanical treatment within 3 years you wouldn’t even now how it was treated and it would expediate the treatment. There is a moratorium for 30 years on beaver trapping. Historically there was beaver where there Is none today. We still have beaver where we would think there is beaver. We need to do the monitoring and restoration piece. Every couple of years we try to get 1/3 done but because of the drought it is shrinking. Water availability seems to be the issue, with restoration work it will address the water availability.
On the way to this stop Jen pointed out some Incense Cedar, which is just located in this small area in the forest. Here we had an overview of the tree mortality. Jen distributed pieces of bark that depicted most of the insect species, Fir Engraver, Western Pine Beetle, Flatheaded Fir Borer, and Douglas Fir Pole Beetle. The bark depicted different signs and different beetle galleries.
Ochoco NF Parking Lot. On the drive back as we got out of the mountain and on the main road you also had a great view of the tree mortality.