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Old road in Tillamook State Forest removed thanks to OWEB grant

Media Release
January 30, 2013
Contact: Kevin Weeks, ODF Public Affairs (503) 945-7427

Sometimes improving a forest means removing what people put there – including roads.

During 2012, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) removed over one mile of older forest road in the Tillamook State Forest to improve stream conditions, benefiting salmon and other aquatic species in the process. Work was also performed to place remnants of large trees in the stream to better mimic healthy fish habitat.

A common practice as logging roads were established in Oregon’s forests during the early parts of the 20th century was to have roads run at the lowest point of the peak-and-valley geography common in northwest Oregon – which frequently placed the road in close proximity to a stream, lake or river.

As our understanding of how forest practices interact with natural processes has improved over the decades, so has Oregon’s approach to building new forest roads.  New road standards introduced between 1996-2006 include measures such as locating new roads away from streams (ideally on ridge tops), diverting storm runoff to the forest floor where the soil can filter it, and restricting forest road use during wet weather.

Contractors removed – also called the decommissioning process – about 1.1 miles of Old Lousignont (pron. LEW-sig-not) Road and a portion of Marshall Road in the ODF-managed forest, located about 10 miles west of L.L. ‘Stub’ Stewart State Park in Washington County. The road decommissioning project is ODF’s contribution to match a $25,000 grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board to promote stream enhancement.

Bighorn Logging of Forest Grove was selected to perform the work, which started by locating trees for the stream enhancement project during spring 2012. Many trees used were harvested during the Old Lou timber sale that occurred near Lousignont Creek. Almost 200 trees longer than 40 feet were placed in the stream at 15 points along a one-and-one-quarter-mile stretch of the creek. Crews used the aging road during the placement of logs during August, but by September it was time to return a 1.1 mile section of the road to a natural state, which was completed by October 2012.

These are before and after photos of Lousignont Creek.

“It’s exciting to come back to a road decommission site a year later,” says Erin Olson, engineering unit forester with ODF’s Forest Grove District. “Even in that time span the area greens right back up.”

Restoring natural processes through road decommissioning is a long-term commitment. ODF staff statewide is able to remove about 8-10 miles of road from Oregon’s state-owned forests during a typical year.

Water flowing from forestland in Oregon is cleaner than water flowing from land in any other use.