Category Archives: News brief

Backcountry Horsemen volunteers help build 66-foot bridge

From left: Tristan Rivers, Sawyer Meegan, and Taylen Howland, all USDA Forest Service employees assigned to the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument backcountry recreation crew, build a rock gabion that supports a 6' tall earth-covered ramp to a new 66-foot equestrian bridge over Fossil Trail #242 on Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington. USDA Forest Service photo, 2019.

AMBOY, Wash. (Aug. 19, 2019) — Backcountry Horsemen of Washington‘s Mount St. Helens Chapter and the USDA Forest Service’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest recently completed a 66-foot equestrian bridge over a creek on Fossil Trail #242, located in the southwest corner of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument (near Goat Mountain).

Decades ago, the trail was an active logging road, with a bridge that connected both sides of the narrow gorge. Equestrians have long been interested in replacing the bridge to provide better access to what is now a non-motorized loop trail for riders on horseback, Camille Stephens, Recreation Assistant for the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, said.

While hikers and even mountain bikers could climb down the gorge’s steep embankment to ford the creek, the embankment was too treacherous for horses, and most riders, such as those staying at the nearby Kalama Horse Camp, were forced to experience the loop only as two disconnected segments, she said.

Forest Service employees Dean Robertson and John Cruse install bridge stringers. USDA Forest Service photo
Forest Service employees Dean Robertson and John Cruse install bridge stringers. USDA Forest Service photo

The non-profit organization had secured grant funding for the project several years earlier, and USDA Forest Service employees placed the bridge’s supporting beams in 2018.

The Backcountry Horsemen volunteers installed the bridge’s decking later that same year.

Backcountry Horsemen of Washington members Jim Anderson and Mitch Hensley use a skidsteer to build the bridge approach. USDA Forest Service photo.
Backcountry Horsemen of Washington members Jim Anderson and Mitch Hensley use a skidsteer to build the bridge approach. USDA Forest Service photo.

This summer, agency employees from the forest’s Mt. Adams Ranger District and Backcountry Horsemen volunteers worked together to complete a 6′ tall rock and gabion support structure for a ramp leading up to the bridge. The structure was then covered in dirt to create an approach to the bridge.

“This trail is now ready to be hiked, biked, or ridden,” Stephens said. “I think all of the partners involved should be very proud of bringing this project to fruition.”

Forest Service employee Camille Stephens harvests rock for the bridge approach. USDA Forest Service photo.
Forest Service employee Camille Stephens harvests rock for the bridge approach. USDA Forest Service photo.

Source information: Gifford Pinchot National Forest – Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument recreation staff.

Forest Service, Oregon officials sign Shared Stewardship agreement

Four people ceremonially sign a document together

PORTLAND, Ore. (Aug. 14, 2019) — On Tuesday, state and federal forestry officials joined Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and James Hubbard, USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment in Salem, Ore., to sign a Shared Stewardship agreement between the state and the USDA Forest Service.

Oregon State Forester Peter Daugherty and USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Regional Forester Glenn Casamassa, building on years of strong state-federal partnership, also signed the agreement to seek even greater collaboration between the agencies..

Under this agreement, the Forest Service and Oregon Department of Forestry will work together to identify shared priorities and implement collaborative projects focused on healthy and resilient forested ecosystems, vibrant local economies, healthy watersheds with functional aquatic habitat, and quality outdoor opportunities for all Oregonians.

“Federal and state agencies face many of the same challenges, including longer and more destructive wildfire seasons; forests facing threats from insects and disease, and the need to ensure the continued long-term ecological and socioeconomic benefits our forests provide,” Casamassa said. Pacific. “Working together in a spirit of shared stewardship, we are better prepared to tackle these challenges on a landscape scale.”

The Forest Service and the State of Oregon have a long history of working together, including coordinated fire protection and grant programs to cooperatively manage forest health issues across all forest lands in Oregon.

In 2016, the Forest Service signed a Good Neighbor Authority Agreement with the State of Oregon to increase the pace and scale of forest health and restoration projects.

Now, there are Good Neighbor projects underway on every national forest in the State of Oregon.

The Forest Service and Oregon Department of Forestry are working more closely and effectively on a wide variety of projects, including forest restoration, watershed restoration projects, timber sales, and other fuels reductions projects.

In May, the Forest Service signed a Shared Stewardship agreement with the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

With this newly signed Oregon agreement, the Forest Service anticipates working even more effectively with state partners, on a landscape scale, across the Pacific Northwest.

Video:
via @YourNorthwestForests on Facebook


Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region (Office of Communications and Community Engagement)

Siuslaw NF seeks outfitter-guide proposals

A dune buggy ferries passengers touring a sandy path through a portion of the Siuslaw National Forest.

(Permisos para guías y proveedores de equipamiento: information en español)

CORVALLIS, Ore. (July 29, 2019)  USDA Forest Service officials are seeking proposals from individuals, businesses, or organizations interested in offering outfitter or guiding opportunities on the Siuslaw National Forest.

This request for proposals, or RFP, is not a formal application process. The RFP is intended to determine the level of interest and identify next steps for issuing outfitter and guide special use permits to interested parties.

Outfitters and guides – who typically offer opportunities such as gear and equipment rentals or recreation experiences led by an expert guide to paying customers – are required to have a special use permit issued by the Forest Service to operate on national forest lands and waters.

Depending on the level of interest expressed in response to this request for proposals, the process for issuing special use permits may be competitive or noncompetitive.

“Outfitters and guides are important partners,” Dani Pavoni, recreation lead for the Siuslaw National Forest, said. “They help open the doors to experiences for people who may not have the skills, experience, or equipment needed to do it on their own, and they help people experience the national forest in new and exciting ways. ”

Pavoni said the forest’s leadership is especially committed to connecting children with nature and partnering with organizations who provide quality outdoor opportunities, and especially encouraged outfitter and guides offering programs that serve youth and historically under-served populations or communities to submit proposals in response to the forest’s RFP.

Proposals are being accepted through Sept. 20, 2019.

More information and proposal documents can be found here.

Questions about special use permits and this request for proposals can be directed to Chris LaCosse, forest recreation specialist, at (541) 271-6017 or SM.FS.SiuNFComment@usda.gov.


Source information: Siuslaw National Forest (press release)

In the News: Lightning-caused fire in Eagle Cap Wilderness may bring eco-benefits

Smoke rises from a forest fire, viewed from the air. A portion of the aircraft being used for aerial monitoring of the fire is visible in the foreground.

The Granite Gulch fire, a lightning-caused fire currently burning on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in eastern Oregon, offers an excellent example of a naturally-caused fire being managed for ecological benefits.

Located deep within the Eagle Cap Wilderness, the fire is currently small and located many miles from the working forest or developed communities.

In the East Oregonian article, Nathan Goodrich, a fire management officer for the forest, explains that managing fire means monitoring the fire and the surrounding conditions closely.

The fire’s effects could help fend off encroachment from sub-albine firs and improve conditions for species like Clark’s nutcracker as well as the whitebark pines that they help propagate, Goodrich said.

If conditions remain favorable (cooler temperatures, low winds, and high moisture content in soil and surrounding plants), Forest Service fire managers hope the fire will continue it’s movement through the wilderness so more of the forest can reap these environmental benefits.

Full story, via the East Oregonian: https://www.eastoregonian.com/news/local/forest-service-monitoring-lightning-fire-in-eagle-cap-wilderness/article_8bdfaf7a-b470-11e9-b17f-1b8cec829c17.html

Wallowa-Whitman NF closes area to camping due to abuse

Deep ruts and tire tracks amidst torn-up forest meadow grass.

BAKER CITY, Ore. (July 25, 2019) — The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest has determined that a temporary closure to camping is needed in a small area of the forest due to ongoing resource damage.

This damage is the result of long-term occupancy of the area, and the closure is intended to allow vegetation in the damaged areas time to become reestablished.

Multiple complaints were received from multiple sources. On further investigation, a number of issues, including septic holes, discarded litter and personal belongings, deep ruts in meadows and wetlands, and other forms of abuse from un-managed long term camping, were documented by Forest Service employees.

The Huckleberry Creek Area Closure affects approximately 240 acres of the Whitman Ranger District, located south of Sumpter along Forest Road 1090, and prohibits overnight camping in the area until July 24, 2021, unless rescinded earlier.

A legal description and map of the closure area is included in the Forest Order, which can be viewed at the Whitman Ranger District office in Baker City or at https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/FSEPRD645413.pdf.

Forest and district leadership thank local residents and the public who brought this to our attention, so that further damage did not occur.

For more information about the closure order, contact the Whitman Ranger District at (541) 523-6391.


Source information: Wallowa Whitman National Forest (press release)

Umpqua NF enacts 14-day limit on some campsites

An elaborately constructed long-term campsite, including a cast iron tub perched above a stone fire circle and a wooden structure likely used by a long-term camper for washing and drying clothes.

ROSEBURG, Ore. (July 28, 2019) The Umpqua National Forest has implemented a 14-day limit on overnight camping in several areas that had previously been available for longer-term camping on the Tiller Ranger District.

Several other areas of the forest are also closed to long-term camping due to increased visitation or environmental damage from long-term camping; long-term camping limits were adopted for several sites on the Cottage Grove District by a closure order issued last year, and several locations on the North Umpqua District are also closed to long-term camping.

Long-term camping at both developed and non-developed (dispersed) campsites that are easily-accessible and in locations that are popular with visitors has increased significantly in recent years, limiting opportunities for other campers seeking to use these sites and increasing the risk of damage to surrounding natural resources from irresponsible recreation practices, according to a press release from the forest to announced the changes.

A developed campsite in an evergreen forest, equipped with a carved log picnic table, fire ring, and cleared flat ground.
A developed campsite on the Tiller Ranger District; Umpqua National Forest, Ore. USDA Forest Service photo by Lance Sargent; district recreation manager.

“Some of these sites are very popular with visitors, and there aren’t a lot of places suitable for camping, so it really limited access,” Lance Sargent, recreation manager for the Tiller Ranger District, said.

Areas of Tiller Ranger District subject to the new long-term camping closure order include the Forest Service Road 28 and South Umpqua Road corridor, the Forest Service Road 2823 corridor, and the Forest Service Road 29 / Jackson Creek Road corridors.

Acker Rock is visible above a break in the treeline, with a branch of the Umqpua River system visible in the foreground and an unpaved forest road winding alongside the stream.
A view of Acker Rock, from one of the road corridors now subject to a 14-day limit on overnight camping. USDA Forest Service photo by Lance Sergeant.

The Devils Flat, Threehorn, Three C Rock, Black Canyon, Skookum Pond and Falcon Creek campgrounds, and the Cow Creek Trailhead, area also affected by the long-term camping closure order.

The new long-term stay limits have been enacted in an effort to protect Forest resources and visitor health and safety, said Kathy Minor, Tiller District Ranger, said.

“Visitors and Forest staff are experiencing an increase in health and safety risks, as well as the potential for unsafe water quality,” Minor said. “By limiting camping to 14 days, all forest visitors will also have a fair and equitable opportunity to visit and enjoy the Umpqua National Forest.”

An abandoned campsite, littered with tarps and large quantities of visible trash.
Risks to wildlife and natural resources include trash from abandoned camps, human-caused defoliation or deforestation in the surrounding area, erosion or soil disturbances beyond designated camping areas, and water or soil contamination from inadequate sanitation and waste handling. USDA Forest Service photo by Lance Sargent.

The areas affected don’t have running water, toilets, or other facilities sufficient for their use as long-term campsites, as longer stays increase the likelihood of negative impacts to natural resources, including removal of vegetation from areas, user-created trails, improper disposal of human waste and other refuse, and damage to soils as a result of long-term camping when such facilities or other management and oversight isn’t present to monitor their use, according to the forest’s press release.

Review a copy of the forest closure order here.

Forest visitors with site-specific questions should contact the Tiller Ranger District ranger station’s visitor information desk, at (541) 825-3100.

For more information about the Umpqua National Forest, call the Forest Supervisor’s Office at (541) 957-3200 or visit www.fs.usda.gov/umpqua.

An elaborately constructed long-term campsite, including a cast iron tub perched above a stone fire circle and a wooden structure likely used by a long-term camper for washing and drying clothes.
This campsite includes signs of both protracted long-term use, and resource damage (the branches used construct the laundry station show clean cuts, indicating they may have been cut from live trees, rather than gathered as dead wood or from blow downs). USDA Forest Service photo by Lance Sargent (recreation manager, Tiller Ranger District).

Source information: Umpqua National Forest (press release)

Fireworks prohibited on public lands

Don't be the spark: Fireworks are prohibited on public lands. USDA Forest Service image.

PORTLAND, Ore. (July 27, 2019) — As July 4th and the Independence Day holiday approaches, fire officials remind visitors that fireworks and exploding targets are prohibited on public lands.

“With warm and dry conditions, all it takes is one small spark to start a wildfire,” Glenn Casamassa, regional forester for the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region, said. “Please be safe and responsible with fire when visiting your public lands this summer!”

Fireworks are banned on national forests at all times, regardless of weather or conditions. Fireworks are also prohibited on other public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Oregon State Parks, and Washington State Parks, as well as most county and city parks.

Violators can be subject to a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail (36 CFR 261.52). Additionally, anyone who starts a wildfire can be held liable for the cost of fighting the fire.

In 2018, 1,485 wildfires in Oregon (68%) and 1,457 wildfires in Washington (84%) were human-caused.

Visitors are also encouraged to practice campfire safety as unattended campfires are the number one source of human-caused wildfires on public land.

If you are planning to have a campfire, remember:

  • First, check with the local unit and know before you go whether campfires are allowed in the area you are visiting. Fire restrictions may be in place, depending on current conditions.
  • Keep your campfire small and away from flammable material.
  • Use a designated campfire ring when available.
  • Keep water and shovel nearby.
  • Completely extinguish your campfire by drowning your fire with water and stirring with a shovel.
  • Make sure your campfire is cold to the touch before leaving it.

Nationally, nearly nine out of ten wildfires are human-caused due to sparks from debris burning, equipment and machinery, campfires, vehicles, and other sources.

Visit www.SmokeyBear.com for additional fire prevention information and resources.

This land is your land: Safeguard our natural treasures. #Independence Day. USDA Forest Service image.

Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region (press release)

Forest Service at Oregon Zoo – next event Aug. 20

PORTLAND, Ore. (June 20, 2019)  Forest Service employees from Portland, Ore. were at the Oregon Zoo’s first Twilight Tuesday event of the season, June 18.

Twilight Tuesday events feature reduced-price evening admission to the zoo, as well as live music, expanded food options, and a variety of education stations staged around the zoo’s performance lawn.

“Zoo visitors are a perfect audience to learn about what the Forest Service is doing with habitat restoration. There are lots of families, lots of young, enthusiastic kids who are interested in learning about the natural world,” Gala Miller, acting conservation education program manager for the agency’s Pacific Northwest Regional office, said. “It’s also allows us to share important information, like white nose syndrome in bats, endangered species protection and preservation… and its about being in community, introducing a non-traditional audiences to the Forest Service and what we do.”

Zoos are often associated with the opportunities they offer view exotic animals, but modern zoos also provide a wealth of research and conservation resources that benefit local, native wildlife.

For example, Staff from the Oregon Zoo’s Butterfly Lab help supervise the raising of threatened and endangered butterflies which are used to repopulate fragmented wild habitat in places like western Washington and Oregon’s Coast Range.

At the July 18 event, Forest Service personnel conducted their own “Butterfly Lab” with zoo visitors, educating young people about the environmental importance of butterflies and other pollinators, butterfly migration patterns, and some of the challenges facing the Pacific Northwest’s endangered and threatened butterfly species.

The Forest Service’s partnership with the zoo is based on its shared mission to educate youth about the natural world, Miller said. The agency partners with the zoo on conservation events throughout the year, including youth summer camps and overnight programs.

The Forest Service also participated in the 2019 season’s second Twilight Tuesday event on July 16. The final Oregon Zoo Twilight Tuesday for the 2019 is scheduled for Aug. 20.

For more information, visit https://www.oregonzoo.org/events/twilight-tuesday.


Source Information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region (Office of Communications and Community Engagement)

Fivemile-Bell Watershed project selected for Riparian Challenge award

A bird perches on a stump in the Fivemile-Bell watershed, Siuslaw National Forest. Courtesy photo by Morgan Heim / Morgan Heim Photography (used with permission)

REEDSPORT, Ore. (July 19, 2019) The Fivemile-Bell Watershed Restoration project has been selected for the 2019 Western Division of the American Fisheries Society (WDAFS) Riparian Challenge Award in the USDA Forest Service category.

The project is located on the Siuslaw National Forest, approximately 10 miles south of Florence, Ore., on the Central Coast Ranger District.

WDAFS presents this award to managers and resource specialists to recognize their efforts in maintaining, restoring, and improving riparian and watershed ecosystems.

The Fivemile-Bell restoration project is a decade-long innovative project that covers about 5,000 acres of national forest land working to restore a critical floodplain to dramatically improve habitat for Oregon Coast Coho salmon, which is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, and other aquatic and terrestrial animals.

An amphibian found in the Fivemile-Bell watershed, Siuslaw National Forest. Courtesy photo by Morgan Heim / Morgan Heim Photography (used with permission)
An amphibian found in the Fivemile-Bell watershed, Siuslaw National Forest. Courtesy photo by Morgan Heim / Morgan Heim Photography (used with permission)

The project, a joint effort by the Siuslaw National Forest and numerous partner organizations and agencies, uses new research to guide the re-establishment of historic stream and floodplain interactions, and restore a native riparian plant community on land formerly used for farming.

This cooperative effort is improving and creating habitat in one of the most productive stream systems in Oregon.

Additionally, the restoration accelerates the development of late-successional and old-growth characteristics in surrounding forest and uplands, benefiting a variety of species – such as the northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet, which are also federally listed under the ESA, creating a more sustainable and resilient landscape.

“This is a representation of all the hard work that has occurred over the last decade” Paul Burns, the Forest Service project lead, said. “We share this recognition with the many partners that have worked on this project.”

Additional partners on the project include Siuslaw Watershed Council, Siuslaw Institute, Elkton Community Education Center, Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians, Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians, Ecotrust, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Western Rivers Conservancy.

“The Fivemile Bell project showcases the incredible social and ecological outcomes that result when diverse project partners work together” Eli Tome, executive director of the Siuslaw Watershed Council, said. “Partners have invested over $1 million in this innovative restoration project over the past decade. Research indicates this investment has supported over 15 local jobs which is critical in our rural community. Restoring this area is supporting one of the strongest runs of threatened Coho salmon on the Oregon Coast. This project is an investment in our community, economy and environment today, and for future generations.”

To learn more about the Fivemile-Bell Watershed Restoration Project visit: https://go.usa.gov/xmAV8. For personal narratives from local project partners at Fivemile Bell and other restoration projects throughout the area, visit the Siuslaw Watershed Council’s website at https://www.siuslaw.org/why-we-restore/.


Source information: The Siuslaw National Forest manages more than 630,000 acres of temperate rainforests along the Oregon Coast Range, from Tillamook to the end of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area in Coos Bay. Additional information is available online at www.fs.usda.gov/siuslaw, www.twitter.com/SiuslawNF and www.facebook.com/SiuslawNF.

The Siuslaw Watershed Council supports sound economic, social and environmental uses of natural and human resources in the Siuslaw River Basin. The Council encourages cooperation among public and private watershed entities to promote awareness and understanding of watershed functions by adopting and implementing a total watershed approach to natural resource management and production.

Fivemile-Bell watershed, Siuslaw National Forest. Courtesy photo by Morgan Heim / Morgan Heim Photography (used with permission)
Fivemile-Bell watershed, Siuslaw National Forest. Courtesy photo by Morgan Heim / Morgan Heim Photography (used with permission)

Postcard from: Get Outdoors Day

The USDA Forest Service’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest staffers team up with colleagues from the National Park Service to host an event for national Get Outdoors Day at Fort Vancouver, Wash. each year.

Get Outdoors Day has evolved into a major community event, with visitors from throughout the greater Portland, Ore. and Vancouver, Wash. metro area and partners from local organizations, businesses, government partners, and even historical re-enactors, all working together to encourage and inspire members of the public to “GO” – Get Outdoors – and explore!

The 2019 National Get Outdoors Day was also a fee-free day on National Forests in Washington and Oregon.

Fee-free days offer no-cost access to Forest Service -managed trail heads and recreation sites, in an effort to encourage outdoors experiences and ensure all Americans have opportunities to access and enjoy recreation opportunities on their public lands.

USDA Forest Service -designated -fee-free days may not extend to some vendor, or concessionaire, -managed sites, or to sites managed by other federal agencies.

Gallery: Photos from the Get Outdoors Day event, hosted by the USDA Forest Service – Gifford Pinchot National Forest and National Parks Service – Fort Vancouver June 8, 2019 at the fort, located in Vancouver, Wash.


USDA Forest Service photos provided by Gala Miller and Heather Ibsen, Gifford Pinchot National Forest staff

« Older Entries