Deschutes National Forest
Projects that are completed, inactive, cancelled, or were changed or stopped through our involvement, may be found in the Library section on the Deschutes NF Archive page.
There are no Forest Plans in review at this time.
Deschutes Collaborative Landscape Forest Restoration Project
The Collaborative Land and Forest Restoration Project (CLFRP) is a congressionally funded project that awards $1 million dollars per year for 10 years to the Deschutes National Forest to implement forest restoration on a 235,000 acre project areas that runs from south of Bend to Sisters and West to the Cascade crest. The money was awarded after competing proposals were evaluated from all of the national forests across the country, and the Deschutes was one of 10 forests to win a grant. One of the key goals of the collaborative is to find consensus between diverse stakeholders to implement treatments, and have projects move forward without being litigated in court.
The Sierra Club has been a key litigant on commercial logging projects in the past, and is therefore a key stakeholder in the process. The Forest Supervisor is heavily invested in the project, and has committed staff from the ranger districts involved to actively participate in the collaborative. The recommendations developed in the collaborative are expected to be implemented across the forest. In the last two years the CLFRP tackled many difficult issues, most of which involve old growth and large trees in areas slated for commercial logging, and has had great success in finding consensus on treatment recommendations for two of the project’s twelve units. The Forest Service delayed new projects until the collaborative provided recommendations they can use, and have now moved forward with two units with other to follow. There are eight years of funding left for the CLFRP, and the recommendations made by the collaborative are expected be instituted across the Deschutes national Forest. The Deschutes Collaborative has received attention at national levels in the forest service, and is the most successful collaborative in the nation.
The Sierra Club Eastside Forest Committee is participating in this collaborative because we recognize the long value and impact of being engaged in these negotiations. The key remaining issues facing CLFRP are how to manage old growth and large trees, how to manage mixed conifer, how to balance wildlife issues, what role commercial logging plays in the forest, how to treat mistletoe infestations, how to balance recreational interests, what role will fire play and how to get it back on the landscape, and how to create wildland/urban boundaries that reduce the risk of wildfire for human development. A key area is the Bend Watershed that contains a significant roadless old growth area. How this area is managed will likely be very contentious, and the outcome will be extremely important for how the forests in general are managed in the future. Salvage logging in the area of the Pole Creek fire that burned last summer and fall was also a topic of intense discussion.
The key goals for the Sierra Club in the CLFRP will be to insure that sound conservation policy consistent with the club’s policies are in the recommendations put forth by the collaborative. The CLFRP looks at the forest on three levels: landscape, project, and stand. Each type of forest ecology is considered (dry pine, dry mixed conifer, wet mixed conifer, etc.), and an attempt is made to recreate the historical range of variability (HRV) for each project and stand so that the treatments prescribed will put the entire forest on a trajectory to create an HRV across the landscape. A hundred years of commercial logging and fire suppression have left a forest that is very out of balance with its’ pre-settlement condition. In the same 100 years, human populations and development have exploded in central Oregon, leaving a patchwork of private inholdings, national forest and BLM lands, and developed towns and subdivisions. While the former landscape cannot be recreated, a lot can be done to bring the forest back to its’ former state of balance and diversity where fire played a key role in maintaining the ecology.
The Sierra Club representative to the CLFRP is David Stowe. If you would like more information on the Deschutes CLFRP and the Sierra Club participation, contact David using his listings on our Contact Us page. Additional information on the nationwide CLFRP process can be found on the Forest Service Collaborative Landscape Forest Restoration Project web site.
Report on Our February 2013 Special Program Night: "Beyond Forest Hardball"
Panel Discussion - Can Enviros and Loggers Get Along in the Deschutes?
On February 26th, we were privileged to have five key participants in the Deschutes National Forest Collaborative Landscape Forest Restoration Project participate in a panel discussion of the collaborative before a standing room only audience of nearly 90 people:
- John Allen, Deschutes National Forest Supervisor
- Alan Unger, Deschutes County Commissioner
- Tim Lillebo, Oregon Wild
- Pete Caligiuri, The Nature Conservancy
- David Stowe, Sierra Club
The evening discussed the purpose and participants in the collaborative at length. Pete Caligiuri from the Nature Conservancy set the stage for the discussion with a slide show summarizing the forest management issues the collaborative is tackling. The other panelists followed with ten minute summaries of how they see those issues. Clearly, there are sharp differences of opinion on many issues, but there also many areas of agreement. One of those universal agreements was the huge change brought about by passing time and the collaborative concept that now all of the participants are civilly discussing their positions and striving very hard to find common ground that will benefit the forests. This was definitely not the case for many of the past decades. John Allen stated his and the Forest Service's strong commitment to continuing the collaborative process, not only in the Deschutes Forest, but throughout the state. The panel discussion was followed by an audience question and answer period.
There was not enough time to thoroughly explore many of the difficult issues facing the collaborative, the Forest Service, the logging industry, environmentalists, and the public. It was clear from both panelists and audience that one of the most controversial of these issues is how old growth trees should be managed. Juniper Group is exploring follow-on programs that will allow further discussion on how our forests should be managed.
Our sincere thanks to the panelists and the audience for their engaged, civil, and thoughtful discussion of issues that are so important to our local economy and quality of life.
Sisters Ranger District
Popper Fuels Reduction
Update December 2012: About half of the project area was impacted by the recent Pole Creek fire. The Forest Service is currently evaluating the impact of the fire on this project. For a current status, visit the Forest Service Popper Vegetation Management Project web page.
The Popper Project is a proposed fuels reduction project, located adjacent to the Sisters SAFR project (see the Deschutes NF Archive page), in forests near the Three Creeks Lake recreation area. The project area contains about 17,192 acres of National Forest System lands, including about 6,544 acres of Inventoried Roadless Area (IRA). It is located about 10 air miles southwest of Sisters, Oregon in Townships T16S, R09E and T17S, R09E, and is adjacent to the western boundary of the 33,000 acre Cascade Timberlands property which is being considered as a future Community Forest.
The Sisters Ranger District proposes to treat about 12,563 acres, including about 4,277 acres in a designated wildland-urban interface. This treatment will include "plantation" area thinning, Lodgepole firewood cutting, Ponderosa Pine commercial thinning, and extensive treatment for Dwarf Mistletoe infection. The Forest Service has sponsored multiple field trips to the project area for public input, which the Sierra Club has participated in.
The Sierra Club submitted comments on this project jointly with Oregon Wild on January 28, 2011. In general, we support this project. However, we think the treatment area is larger than necessary to achieve the project objectives. In particular, a reduction in the Wildland Urban Interface treatments, firewood cutting, mistletoe treatment, and incursions into the inventoried roadless areas are needed. Riparian areas should be avoided unless there is a really strong justification for entering.
Bend / Fort Rock Ranger District
Rocket Vegetation Management Project
The Rocket project is located 4 miles south of Bend along US 97 in the vicinity of the Lava Lands Visitor's Center. The project area includes portions of the Newberry National Monument. The stated purpose of the project in the Forest Service Environmental Assessment (EA) is to: "... improve vegetative resilience to disturbance agents such as insects, disease, and fire, and lessen the risk that such disturbance events result in large scale loss of forest. There is a need to reduce stand density, improving health and growth of residual trees and moving the structural stages on the landscape closer to the historic range of variability (HRV)." Forest Service documents and maps related to this project can be found at Rocket Vegetation Management Project.
While generally supportive of Alternative 3 for this project, we have commented on some aspects of the proposal: the large size (up to 12 acres) of proposed spatial openings; logging in Goshawk post-fledgling areas; the thinning criteria for Old Growth Management Areas; a recommendation to use a variable basil area thinning criteria to minimize the number of larger diameter trees that are removed; and a recommendation to include a prohibition on removal of all trees that exhibit old growth characteristics. The full text of our comments can be read at Rocket EA Comments 11-21-13. (11-23-13)
Bend Municipal Watershed Fuel Breaks
This project, located 11 miles west of Bend between the Bend Municipal Watershed and Three Sisters Wilderness will:
"Thin both snags and green trees within several hundred feet of both sides of a few key roads in the area including: FS road (FSR) 4601370 and 4601. Treatments would create roughly 15 miles of strategic roadside fuel breaks and would also include reducing ladder fuels and down woody debris and brush. Roadside treatment could be accomplished with a variety of tools including forest crews used to masticate down material with a small tracked vehicle, firewood sales, and small commercial bid sales. Project implementation would include thinning of snags and some live green trees to reduce fuels along the selected roads, application of some spot rock in places to allow fire suppression vehicles access during a wildfire event and ladder fuel reduction and mastication of slash generated by tree removal."
The Scoping Notice was issued on February 14, 2013 and can be read at: http://data.ecosystem-management.org/nepaweb/nepa_project_exp.php?project=41351 . The Sierra Club provided comments on the Scoping Notice to the Forest Service on March 14, 2013. These comments can be read at: BMW Fuel Break Scoping Comments. (11-12-13)
West Bend Vegetation Management Project
The Forest Service has proposed a vegetation management project for the area immediately west of Bend, including some of the popular mountain biking and winter recreation areas. The stated purpose of the project is "to move toward a more resilient landscape and provide a diversity of habitats closer to what historically occurred". The West Bend project area totals approximately 25,700 acres and is bounded on the east by the urban interface of Bend and on the west by the Bend Watershed Roadless Area. The vegetation ranges from lower elevation second-growth ponderosa pine in the east to higher elevation lodgepole and mixed conifer in the west. Highways 41 and 46 bound the south side. The area is close to Bend, the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway, and the Deschutes River corridor and as a result receives high recreation use by the public. Firewood gathering also occurs throughout the project area. Forest Service documents and maps related to this project can be found at West Bend Vegetation Management Project.
The Juniper Group Sierra Club has reviewed the Scoping Letter for this project and submitted comments to the Forest Service. This project is part of the broader Deschutes Collaborative Landscape Restoration Project. The Eastside Forest Committee is represented in the collaborative, and will determine it's support of the project based on the recommendations to the Forest Service made by the collaborative and the degree of adoption by the Forest Service. The text of our concerns with the project as proposed and the considerations we desire to be addressed in the environmental assessment can be read at West Bend Scoping Comments. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement was issued in April 2013 and was not commented on by the Sierra Club. (06-08-13)
Crescent Ranger District
There are no projects under review at this time.