The U.S. Forest Service is proposing to log trees killed or damaged in last year’s Chetco Bar Fire. Chetco Bar was by far Oregon’s largest wildfire in 2017, burning just over 191,000 acres in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
Jessie Berner is the Chetco Bar Coordinator for the Forest.
"We are trying to capture the value of those trees to try to recoup some of the economic value of that timber in support of our local communities," she says.
Forest Service managers ruled out wilderness, roadless areas, streamside zones and other protected areas, limiting possible salvage logging to land already designated for timber harvest.
Now, a draft environmental analysis is proposing salvage on just over 4,000 acres of badly-burned forest.
Conservationists urge consideration of a more modest alternative to protect fish and water quality in the Chetco River. George Sexton is with the Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center in Ashland.
"What we know about post-fire clearcut logging and water quality is that the more you clearcut, the more you harm the watershed," he says.
Others, including local elected officials, have pushed for larger-scale post-fire logging than the 4,090 acres the Forest Service is proposing
"A lot of folks are not happy with that," Berner says. "They feel like it’s too low and that we should be looking at a larger area."
After a 30-day comment period, the Forest Service will make a decision. Managers hope to get the project underway before the end of summer.