Post-Wildfire Hazard Trees

This Statesman-Journal article (Salem, OR), “Forest Service moves to remove ‘hazard trees’ along fire-burned roads in Santiam, McKenzie canyons,” has a slideshow with 58 images from the burned areas. Gives you an idea of the hazards along trails and roads.

This photo is not from the article, but from Freres Lumber’s blog. Shows how a fire can weaken roots and undermine trees, so that they easily fall over.

13 thoughts on “Post-Wildfire Hazard Trees”

  1. This is another categorical exclusion, presumably for “road maintenance.”

    I thought this perspective was interesting: “There’s nothing wrong with their premise — making roads safe from falling trees and selling commercially viable timber to pay for it,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands. “The problem is that they’ve authorized commercial logging extremely broadly across a huge area with limited oversight, including on a ton of roads that are rarely traveled. They should focus on only the most traveled roads and then look carefully at whether the other roads even make sense. Instead, they’re rushing to get as many trees as possible in a way that could damage rivers, habitat and drinking water. And we’re talking about critical areas for the environment — the Opal Creek, Breitenbush and McKenzie river areas.”

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    • Sounds like Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands, is endorsing commercial logging if it in certain ecologically important areas.

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  2. It is very easy to look up the slope and see trees that are marked for cutting, but it is not easy to see the big unstable ‘catface’ on the uphill side. Roads and power lines have “buffer zones”, just like streams and rivers.

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    • Most fire salvage sales are very limited, unfortunately, to trees that might hit the road. Once in awhile some sales will include sale units that might include more timber, which makes a lot sense.
      These sales are almost along logging roads that were placed high along the side hills and ridge tops. They are almost always a long ways from any main stem waterways. Riparian areas, even those that seldom have water in them, are well protected by no cut or no harvest restrictions.
      Removing hazards trees along a main highways is a necessity. The risks of someone getting hurt are too high. But I still think it is important to keep our forests roads open, even those seldom used.
      I haven’t heard anything about a rush to harvest secondary road around Opal creek, Brittenbush, or the McKenzie.
      I myself have always viewed fire salvage as opportunity to utilize this precious forest resource that Is now dead. I have felt harvesting less than 2% of the timber that was killed by a fire is nothing short of criminal as far as waste of this invaluable natural resources goes.

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    • I’ve done roadside hazard tree removal projects, and we could only remove trees which were either dead, or unstable at the base. Being so visible to the general public, I always felt the need to be able to justify each and every tree decision, under the rules, laws, policies and contracts. The trees have to be hazardous, in order to cut them.

      On regular salvage sales, if the trees are dead, we’re harvesting some of them. Of course, private industry does salvage just a bit different than the Forest Service. Private industry uses clearcuts. The Feds don’t, unless those dead trees are hazardous. Yes, I guess the private logging industry does see forests as a source of income. There’s a few companies out there who don’t use clearcuts on their lands.

      Despite what some people claim, the Forest Service does not use clearcuts in salvage sales. It might look like that, from the adjacent road….

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    • No, it has so many different values. But I am talking about harvesting less than 2% of what was killed in a fire. Is 98% of the forest left untouched enough?

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    • I really hope nobody who has followed our fire seasons the past few years thinks we have a lack of early seral habitat.

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