Ochoco 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 Ochoco NF Archive page.
No Forest Plans are being reviewed at this time.
Ochoco Forest Supervisor
Ochoco Summit Trail System Project
Sierra Club Files a Joint Objection to this Project
The Record of Decision (ROD) for this project was issued by the Ochoco National Forest Supervisor in March 2014. Alternative 3 Modified was selected to be implemented. This Alternative will created 129 miles of OHV roads and trails in the vicinity of Big Summit Prairie, including 50 miles of new construction, at a total cost of $535,047. The Sierra Club filed an objection to this ROD jointly with Wild Earth Guardians/Wildlands CPR, Oregon Wild, and Cascadia Wildlands on April 28, 2014. The full text of this Objection can be read at Ochoco Summit Trail System Project Objection.
Our objections to the ROD fall into 11 major areas:
- The cited Purpose and Need are unreasonable
- There is inadequate analysis of the cumulative impacts to the area
- The Project fails to comply with the Travel Management Rule and Minimization Criteria
- It does not properly evaluate the impact on Indicator Species
- The range of Alternatives evaluated was not adequate
- It does not comply with the Ochoco Land Resource Management Plan for minimization of roads and road impacts
- It does not properly evaluate the riparian impacts as require under Inland Native Fish Strategy (INFISH)
- The evaluation failed to implement the NEPA "Hard Look" mandate using the Best Available Science
- The selected Alternative does not represent the Minimum Road System
- The noise impact of the Project was not properly evaluate
- Alternative 3 Modified is not the environmentally preferred Alternative as required
The Sierra Club understands that other organizations have also filed objections to this decision. We anticipate the Forest Service will take several months to review the objections and to act on them. We will continue to monitor the status of this very egregious project.
This project was introduced to the public in 2009 as a project proposal. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement was released for comment in January 2013. Detailed information on this project can be found on the Forest Service web site at Ochoco Summit Trail System.
The draft DEIS summarized the project as follows: "This Draft Environmental Impact Statement analyzes four alternatives related to the development of a trail for motorized off-highway vehicles (OHVs) on the Ochoco National Forest. Alternative 1 is the no action alternative, which would not develop or designate trail for OHVs. Alternative 2 is the proposed action; it would create a 170-mile trail network, providing areas intended for use by motorcycles, ATVs, and Jeeps and 4 x 4 trucks. Alternative 3 would create a 101-mile trail network, providing areas intended for use by motorcycles and ATVS, and would not designate a trail system intended for jeeps and 4 x 4s. Alternative 4 would create a 212-mile trail network, providing areas for all three classes of off-highway vehicles. The Responsible Official has identified Alternative 3 as the preferred alternative."
The full text of our comments on this DEIS can be read at Ochoco Summit Trail DEIS Comments.
"No Action" Is Only Acceptable Alternative
The Sierra Club takes great exception with implementing any of the Alternatives other than Alternative 1, No Action. The impacts of increased OHV usage on existing forest experiences and values that are currently available in this public land would be too great, and the expenditure of precious funds for just 0.2% of users is not justified. The Ochoco’s would be irreparably degraded should this project plan proceed. (5-5-14)
Lookout Mountain Ranger District
Lookout Mountain Trails Project
The Lookout Mountain Trails Project was announced by the FS on April 17, 2014. This project proposes to create 75.2 miles of non-motorized multi-use trails from existing trails and by constructing approximately 19 miles of new trail. This project is sponsored by the Central Oregon Trails Alliance (COTA) and will focus on increasing access to the area for mountain biking. The FS proposal and map can be found at Lookout Mountain Trails Project.
The Sierra Club has been working closely with COTA to mold this project in a way that will minimize its impact on the environment and hikers. We anticipate being able to support this proposal in its final form, however we are planning on a field trip as soon as the area is accessible (mid-June) to verify our understanding of the existing trails, vegetation and wildlife. We are frequent users of the Lookout Mountain hiking trails and want to insure the current quality of outdoor experience will be maintained after construction of this project. (5-6-14)
McKay Fuels and Vegetation Management Project
The Ochoco NF is conducting a NEPA analysis of a proposal to use commercial timber harvest, pre-commercial thinning, grapple piling, hand piling, and prescribed fire in the McKay Creek watershed for vegetation management and treatment of fuels. The Draft EIS was issued in March 2013: it analyzes three additional alternatives (including the No Action Alternative); the significant issues associated with the proposal; and the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of implementing any of the alternatives.
The McKay project area is located on the Lookout Mountain Ranger District of the Ochoco National Forest, about 11 miles northeast of Prineville, Oregon. The approximately 25,526 acre project area falls within McKay Creek watershed.
The Forest Service rationale for the project states: "Based upon direction from the Ochoco Forest Plan and opportunities identified in the McKay WA, the Lookout Mountain Ranger District has determined that within the McKay project area: 1. There is a need to strategically reduce forest vegetation density and fuel loadings to reduce the risk that disturbance events such as insect, disease and wildfire will lead to a loss of desired forest conditions. 2. There is a need to increase or maintain large tree structure and hardwood abundance and diversity in RHCAs while meeting the need identified in point #1. 3. There is a need to contribute to the local and regional economies by providing timber and other wood fiber products now and in the future."
The Sierra Club has analyzed the Draft EIS and submitted the following comments to the Forest Service:
- Thinning will be conducted in riparian areas without an adequate buffer zone;
- The expansion of the Highland Material Source gravel mine will have significant impacts on water quality, however no water quality monitoring is required;
- Protection measures for nesting Goshawks are not included;
- The limitations provided for removal of snags that present a safety hazard are not adequate;
- The impact of constructing seven miles of temporary roads and reconstructing 11 miles of permanent roads are not adequately analyzed;
- We question whether a Forest Plan Amendment should allow cutting of Late Old Successional Reserves.
The full text of our comments to the Forest Service can be read at McKay DEIS Comments 4-29-13. Forest Service documents related to this project are available at McKay Fuels and Vegetation Management Project.
Paulina Ranger District
Wolf Fuels and Vegetation Management Project
The Wolf project area is located on the Paulina Ranger District of the Ochoco National Forest, about 50 miles east of Prineville, Oregon. The approximately 24,506-acre project area incorporates three subwatersheds of the Lower Beaver Creek watershed; Wolf Creek, North Wolf Creek and a small section of Drift Canyon-Beaver Creek. The Forest Service released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in January 2014. The DEIS proposes to use commercial timber harvest, noncommercial thinning, hardwood planting and prescribed fire for vegetation management and treatment of fuels.
The Sierra Club endorsed the recommendations of the Ochoco Forest Restoration Collaborative, which in general supported the project, with the exception of logging a 348 acre area of Grand and Douglas Fir 21" dbh and greater that are younger than 150 years age. Our endorsement letter and the Ochoco Forest Restoration Collaborative recommendations can be read at Wolf DEIS Comments 03-03-14. Forest Service documents related to this project can be found at Wolf Fuels and Vegetation Management Project. (03-03-14)