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home : current news : current news November 16, 2018

2/27/2018 1:54:00 PM
Tree project underway near Crossroads

Residents of the Crossroads subdivision west of Sisters should see evidence of forest thinning operations nearby in March.

Over the next couple months, the Deschutes National Forest's Sisters Ranger District will be doing thinning operations near the Crossroads subdivision to create a more fire-resilient ecosystem adjacent to the neighborhood.

Fires like the Milli Fire last summer, as well as the Black Crater Fire in 2006, were close calls for Crossroads homeowners. Forest Service officials say thinning of the area will create a more fire-resilient and healthier forest.

The Forest Service reports that, due to a variety of factors, the number of trees per acre across the Deschutes National Forest is well above historic levels. This heavy fuel load has caused fires over the last two decades to generally burn at a higher intensity and at a larger scale, encompassing tens of thousands of acres at a time, unlike the smaller, less-intense fires that occurred historically in Central Oregon's fire-adapted ecosystems.

The thinning work is a part of the broader Sisters Area Fuel Reduction (SAFR) project and will leave the largest and healthiest fire-resilient trees as a priority, incorporating a natural-looking forest with a mosaic pattern of clumps and groups of trees as well as single trees and occasional small openings. This mosaic pattern mimics how a historical and regular fire regime would otherwise naturally shape the forest.

Work previously done through SAFR has reduced the spread of fire during both the Pole Creek, 2012, and Milli Fires, officials say.

Thinning operations, which use heavy equipment, have been underway a mile to the south of the Crossroads subdivision along Forest Service Road 15. At this time operations are done Monday-Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; however, as operations get close to the subdivision, activities will begin at 7 a.m. to reduce noise early in the morning. 

All operations will take place north and west of Forest Service Road 15 and south of Highway 242. Some thinning units are adjacent to Crossroads private property while others are not far away.

Operations are ongoing and are expected to be close to the Crossroads neighborhood around March 1, depending on weather and soil conditions.

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