COYOTE THIN and CAVE BEAR RESTORATION
 
 
 

COYOTE THIN

The South Gifford Pinchot Collaborative (SGPC) has worked with the Mount Adams Ranger District on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on a large commercial coniferous thinning project since 2009. The Forest Service will thin 3,800 acres in multiple sales over multiple years, just west of Trout Lake, WA, in the Upper and Lower Trout Lake Creek and Cave-Bear watersheds within the Mt. Adams Ranger District in Skamania County. Simultaneously, SGPC worked on meadow and forest restoration projects in the same area under the Cave Bear Restoration Project, explained below.

There are a variety of reasons for thinning this section of the forest, but the main reason is to improve forest health. The majority of tree stands in the project area were clear-cut harvested in the 1950s and were replanted with Douglas fir in high densities. This high-density planting and lack of biodiversity would cause the growth of these tree stands to stagnate over time and prevent the forest from returning to its original state prior to the arrival of settlers in the late 19th century.

Other objectives for the Coyote Thin are to improve huckleberry production, reduce wildfire risk in moderate- and high-risk areas, restore diverted or relocated stream channels, and reduce road density in the watershed. "Basically, the objective is to have an old-growth forest back” notes Jon Nakae, Mt. Adams Ranger District silviculturist.

In 2009, the South Gifford Pinchot Collaborative, (formerly Mt. Adams Collaborative) received funding from Title II Secure Rural Schools through the South GP Resource Advisory Council (RAC) to perform stand exams on 5000 acres to assess the current stand conditions in the Coyote Area. The group worked with the Forest Service and contracted with Mt Adams Resource Stewards to perform the stand exams. We wanted to assist the Forest Service by moving the project ahead of schedule.

The collaborative interfaced with the Forest Service during the NEPA process, conducted several field trips with the FS, including a public field trip, has given public comments throughout the process and is currently advising the FS on restoration project priorities and sale configurations.

For more information about Coyote Thin see the Gifford Pinchot National Forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/giffordpinchot/landmanagement/projects .

 
 
 
 

CAVE BEAR RESTORATION PROJECT

Simultaneously, while planning for Coyote Thin, a committee of the South Gifford Pinchot Collaborative worked on restoration projects in the area. Funding was received from the RAC to preform pre-NEPA field surveys and to assist in preparation of NEPA documents. Two Environmental Assessments resulted, one for Meadow Restoration and one for Road Restoration.

Eleven meadows and forest openings that have been encroached by conifers were of concern. The group worked with the south zone botanist for restoration of several meadows in the area. Pale blue-eyed grass and Mardon skipper will benefit from the project by removing encroaching conifers, treating invasive plants in occupied meadow habitat and preventing vehicular access into the meadows. Both species are on the Regional Forester’s Sensitive species list.

The road restoration project will improve fish passage, riparian habitats, and water quality. The EA analyzes environmental effects for replacing one culvert, bouldering sensitive sites along one road, decommissioning approximately 8 miles of road, and closing and stabilizing approximately 4 miles of Forest Service system roads on the Mt. Adams Ranger District. The culvert replacement, road decommissioning, and close and stabilize activities would improve hydrologic function and aquatic and terrestrial habitat in the Trout Lake Creek, Cave-Bear Creeks, and Dry/Lost Creeks sixth level sub-watersheds. For specific information about both projects, go to http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/giffordpinchot/landmanagement/projects .
 
 
 
 

Both Coyote Thin and the Cave Bear Restoration projects will begin in 2014.