Forest Health project scheduled for East Moraine Community Forest

Almost 19 acres will be thinned near Turner Lane trailhead this winter

ENTERPRISE – To protect forest health on the East Moraine Community Forest a thinning  project is planned to reduce an outbreak of bark beetles near the Turner Lane trailhead. 

Known as scolytus, or “fir engravers”, the insects are threatening forests across the Blue  Mountains and local foresters and landowners have documented phenomenon. Oregon  Department of Forestry highlighted this in their most recent Forest Health report. Broadly  speaking, the department noted that drought stress, followed by opportunistic insect attacks, is  the main underlying cause of tree dieback and decline. Recreationists hiking, biking, riding or  cross-country skiing on the Community Forest may have noticed dead or dying trees.  

This winter, managers of the Community Forest will be addressing this issue on approximately  19 acres with the goal of mitigating drought stress, slowing the spread of beetles, and improving  forest health. Treatment will begin in late February. 

Local forester Larry Nall works with the Community Forest’s management team on its forestry  plan. He said removing insect-riddled trees is key to controlling the spread of scolytus, a bark  beetle that has the potential to kill an entire stands of trees. The treatment will improve the  overall health of the stands on the east side of the East Moraine. 

Nall said, “This thinning project will reduce stocking, leaving a multi stand structure with a higher  percentage of fire and fir engraver resistant species. 

Mike Witherite who owns “Mr. Timber”, a Joseph-based logging company, will harvest the trees over snow to reduce soil compaction and disturbance. The work will be completed by late  March, ahead of the migratory bird season and the spring thaw.  

The harvest method will be “whole tree logging” – bringing trees to a landing near a road for further processing. Nall said some slash debris will be left behind, which provides habitat for  small mammals, birds, amphibians and insects. Once the area has been thinned, it will also  

provide better food sources for keystone species such as elk and deer by opening up the forest  canopy and allowing shrubs more sunlight for growth. 

Nils Christoffersen, the Community Forest’s executive committee chairman, said Witherite is  continuing forest health work started in September. Fifteen acres of small diameter trees were  pre-commercial thinned and mulched onsite to encourage the growth of Douglas fir, larch and  ponderosa pine on the upper elevation of the Community Forest. 

Christoffersen, “Completing this work on the lower end of the Community Forest now takes  advantage of over-snow harvesting as well as a reasonable log market. This prescription is an  example of the stewardship we envision for the county-owned property – management that  advances the vision and values established under the new management plan.” 

The public is invited to an over-snow tour of the project Jan. 28 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. beginning  at the Community Forest’s Turner Lane parking lot. Snow shoes or cross-country skis will be  necessary to access the stand.

The tour will be led by Nall, who serves on the Wallowa Resources board of directors as well as  the Wallowa Land Trust’s land’s committee. He will be supported by Nick Lunde, retired U.S. Forest Service fire management officer and Wallowa Land Trust board member, Mike Hansen,  wildlife biologist, and Janet Hohmann, wildlife and bird expert. 

Kathleen Ackley, executive director of the Wallowa Land Trust, is on the East Moraine  Community Forest executive committee. She said the tour is an opportunity to educate the  public about the multi-use management of the Forest. 

Ackley said, “The partners who manage the Community Forest – Wallowa County, Wallowa  Land Trust, Wallowa Resources and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department – encourage  the public to not only enjoy the property for recreation, but come learn about ecological forestry  and how thoughtful stewardship can improve the overall health of the landscape.” 

For more information or to sign up for the tour, contact Sarah Kleinhanzl, or Katy Nesbitt,

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