This fall, local crews will go to work reducing the wildfire hazard on more than 200 acres of forest in Josephine County, thanks to a federal Recovery Act grant received by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). Grayback Forestry of Merlin has been awarded a contract to clear dead and standing hardwood trees on three tracts of state forestland. The thinning and brush-clearing operation will also create growing space for conifers.
The three work sites, located in Josephine County near Sunny Valley, Wolf Creek and south of Glendale, are on isolated parcels of state-owned forest.
“We expect this project to keep up to 20 people employed for a month,” ODF’s Chris Rudd said. “They will do the hand work with chainsaws and then pile the material.”
The Grants Pass-based forester said the jobs for this first of several stimulus-funded contracts will help keep local forests healthy and provide jobs to areas hard-hit by the economic recession.
The Josephine County project is the first to get underway in the Southwest Oregon District through a grant awarded to ODF from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Overall, the grant will put crews to work in three counties doing forest fuels reduction:
$530,000 – Douglas County
$377,000 – Josephine County
$269,000 – Jackson County
The fuels work is expected to cost between $500-1,000/acre. The total acreage to be treated will be determined by the contract bid prices.
The trees, limbs and brush from this fall’s Josephine County operation will be piled and burned onsite. But in future projects slated for Josephine and the other counties, ODF will seek to put the wood waste to use.
“We’ll encourage loggers to get creative in finding ways to make it pay to chip the material and send it to biomass plants,” he said.
He cited as an example a local logger who has developed a small chip van he uses to gather material from small log landings. By transporting wood waste out of the woods at lower cost, the improvised machine could help make forest biomass conversion in southwestern Oregon more cost-effective. Biomass facilities are able to produce electricity from woody debris.
In offering the grants, ODF is working with local communities that have Community Wildfire Protection Plans in place to craft other fuels-reduction projects. Thinning timbered tracts adjacent to developed areas has the twofold benefit of protecting people and property from encroaching wildfire, while also enhancing forest health.
Contractors desiring to bid on other Recovery Act-funded ODF projects in the region are encouraged to go to the Oregon Procurement Information Network (ORPIN) Internet site, http://orpin.oregon.gov/open.dll/welcome. ODF’s Southwest Oregon District will post all Recovery Act-funded requests for proposal or invitations to bid there, with the listings containing the keywords “ODF fuel reduction services.”
The U.S. Forest Service awarded the Recovery Act grant to ODF.
More information on Oregon Department of Forestry Recovery Act projects can be found at: www.oregon.gov/odf. For information on all Recovery Act projects being administered by Oregon State Government agencies, go to the Oregon Way website, www.oregon.gov/recovery/index.page.
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