Anyone who has driven between Sisters and Black Butte Ranch knows that the trees along Highway 20 are in trouble. Some of these damaged and potentially dying trees have been recognized as a public safety hazard and must be removed.
The Sisters Ranger District is interested in hearing from the public regarding a proposed project to remove dead and dying danger trees along Highway 20 just outside of Sisters. The project would remove trees that pose a hazard to public safety because of their potential to fall across the highway. Only the dead and dying trees would be removed.
The project area includes 11.5 miles of Highway 20 beginning at the city of Sisters and travelling northwest and a 1-mile section southeast of Sisters. The trees would be felled and removed. Ultimately the trees would be utilized for forest products, the Forest Service reports.
The problem began developing from 2013 to 2015 when an herbicide named Perspective was used along the highway corridor, within the Oregon Department of Transportation's right of way, to remove brush.
The herbicide harmed Ponderosa pines and other trees in the area where it was applied.
As the trees began showing distress and started dying in 2014, the Forest Service and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) conducted a joint analysis to determine the cause. The analysis indicated that the manufacturer of the herbicide Perspective, originally stated it may harm susceptible trees, but the label did not say it specifically it would harm ponderosa pine trees. However, in 2012, additional language on the manufacturer's label was added specifically stating it would damage ponderosa pine trees. ODOT has discontinued use of Perspective where trees are growing.
During the felling of the trees, which might occur as early as this fall, flaggers would be used as necessary to maintain safety along the highway and travelers might experience some delays.
Those interested in learning more about the Highway 20 Corridor Public Safety Project should contact Michael Keown, Sisters Ranger District Environmental Planner at 541-549-7735. Comments will be taken for 30 days and can be made through mail, in person, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.