Forest Service prioritizes 152 miles of road after Riverside Fire
As Mt. Hood National Forest staff rebuild in the aftermath of the Riverside Fire, they will focus on removing hazardous trees from 152 miles of roadways within the burn area.
On Tuesday, Aug. 10, a Roadside Danger Tree Decision Memo was released for the Clackamas River Ranger District, where the 140,000 acre Riverside Fire burned last September and reached within a half mile of Estacada city limits.
Work outlined in the memo will focus on sections of 17 roads considered very high priority, and sections of 72 roads considered high priority.
Very high priority roads are primary access routes to the forest, such as Roads 46 and 57, as well as roads that access Timber Lake Job Corps and the Ripplebrook area. High priority roads are system roads that access large portions of the forest, including collector roads, arterial roads, and roads that access communication towers, powerlines, and primary trailheads.
Highway 224 was not included in the report, since it is managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation. The closed highway is the primary access point to many locations on the forest near Estacada.
"These projects are rooted in our agency's core value of safety, underscored in our policy and direction for ensuring known dangers are mitigated along open roads," said Mt. Hood National Forest Supervisor Duane Bishop. "We're looking forward to starting this work so safe access to these roadways and public lands can be restored. These project decisions are a critical first step in addressing safety hazards and making these beloved areas safe again for the public and our employees."
The memo noted that although the projects may take years to complete, implementation will begin as soon as local resources are available and new contracts are developed or existing contracts modified to accomplish this important work.
The plan focuses on fire-killed or weakened trees that are within one tree-height of the roadways.
"Danger tree removal will occur where fire-killed or weakened trees pose a known safety risk to the public, employees, or infrastructure. The vast majority of fire-killed or weakened trees that do not threaten roads, property, or infrastructure will be left standing. Additionally, trees within riparian reserves and known cultural sites are generally left on-site, " the report stated. "Felled trees may be used to assist with erosion control, restoration projects, cultural or community use, and may also be sold for commercial uses to better enable the Forest to pay for danger tree removal, reforestation, stream and riparian restoration, and other recovery work."
Additional analysis to address other fire-killed or weakened trees that are beyond one tree-height of the roadway that are a safety threat will likely occur within the next few months.
To read the Clackamas River Ranger District Roadside Danger Tree Decision Memo, click here.
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