Northwest Oregon: Release of Updated Environmental Assessment for Thurston Hills Forestry & Trails Management Project


U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued the following announcement on Feb. 5.

The Bureau of Land Management’s Northwest Oregon District, Upper Willamette Field Office has released a revised Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Thurston Hills Non-Motorized Trails and Forest Management Project.  In meeting a Federal Court Order issued in September 2019, the updated EA is being released with a 30 day timeframe to ensure ample opportunities for anyone interested in the project to provide input. Comments can be submitted to blm_or_thurstonhills@blm.gov.

The project is located approximately eight miles southeast of downtown Springfield, Oregon, adjacent to the Thurston Hills Natural Area managed by Willamalane Parks and Recreation District. The revised EA includes five alternatives for the project.  In three alternatives (Alternatives 3, 4, and 5) a timber harvest would remove selected trees to establish a new stand of timber on 109 to 165 acres, with some trees being kept to provide benefits for wildlife.  Timber harvest would include road work along portions of 79th Street on BLM property, and log haul down 79th Street. BLM would ensure that all appropriate signage and safety features are in place during haul activities.  Overall, the project would generate 4-6 million board feet of timber, creating approximately 52 jobs and $2.5 million of employment income for the local economy.

In three alternatives (Alternatives 2, 3, and 4), BLM would designate 8.3 to 8.5 miles of new hiking and mountain biking trails and associated Recreation Management Zones, providing 100 feet around every future trail’s centerline to manage for recreation objectives, including open space and non-motorized trail opportunities.  The new hiking and mountain biking trails would connect to existing trails at the Thurston Hills Natural Area, offering a mix of intermediate and advanced mountain biking experiences with approximately 2/3 of the new trail system meandering through forested areas and 1/3 of the system along more open, tree lined trails.  

In addition, the revised EA includes an analysis of how the proposed project would affect fire hazard and fire risk. Under all harvest alternatives, 100% of harvested acres would be whole tree yarded to address concerns of fire hazard and risk from logging slash, such as limbs, branches, and tree tops. Overall, this logging method would reduce the amount of slash left in the units.  Harvested areas where heavy concentrations of slash remain after whole tree yarding would receive additional treatments such as piling and burning. 

For additional information, please contact the Upper Willamette Field Office at (541)683-6600.

Original source can be found here.

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