Small projects target trails, parking, seed orchard

Forest service plans efforts at Deschutes

By Hilary Corrigan / The Bulletin

The Deschutes National Forest plans four small projects that look to bolster a couple of trails, add a little parking and remove extra trees at a seed orchard.

The public can comment on the projects and specify concerns or issues for the U.S. Forest Service to analyze. All the projects would take place on Deschutes forestland and some could be completed by the end of the year, according to Kevin Larkin, district ranger at the forest’s Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District.

Because they’re small-scale projects, they would not require full environmental reviews, Larkin said.

One of them aims to add parking to the Tumalo Falls Day Use Area that Larkin called “tremendously popular.” He noted that visitors line the road there with their vehicles, creating safety concerns and making it tough for any emergency vehicles to squeeze through. So the forest service plans to turn an approximately 150-foot-by-20-foot area — already disturbed from its previous use in logging activities and from construction of Bend’s water line — to allow a single row of parking.

“Any little bit helps,” Larkin said. “Get some people off the road.”

To connect the area to the existing main parking lot, about a half-mile of trail for hiking and mountain biking would be built parallel to Forest Service Road 4603. Part of the trail would sit on an old road bed to lessen the impact.

A second proposal, the Wanoga Winter Trail Additions project, entails adding a few miles of trails that have been used on a trial basis for the past few years near Wanoga Sno-park. The project would make the trial trails permanent in the service’s winter trail system.

The trails came in response to the growing demand by those using fat-tire snow bikes and skis and for unleashed dogs. They consist of about 2 miles of groomed cross-country ski and snowshoe trails that allow for unleashed dogs and about 8.5 miles of groomed fat-tire snow bike trails.

Because the trails would be used over snow, the project would require no ground-disturbing work, although some clearing of small trees and branches would occur.

A third project, Black Rock Trail Relocation, calls for relocating a section of trail that’s used mostly by mountain bikers on the Black Rock Trail near Benham Falls. The trail now crosses a railroad track that lacks any signs, lights or other safety devices for crossing. The relocation effort would move a section of that trail to connect to the existing Sun-Lava Bike Path that has a safer crossing of the tracks, complete with a railroad crossing arm and flashing lights. Trail users would reconnect with the Black Rock Trail after the crossing.

“Should be fairly quick and easy,” Larkin said of work to relocate the section of trail. It could be finished by summer.

The fourth project entails thinning the 25-acre Kelsey Butte ponderosa pine seed orchard, located southeast of Bend. The 23-year-old orchard provides reforestation seed, used to grow seedlings for the forest. The project will remove competing trees and younger ones, all in the range of 8 inches to 18 inches in diameter. Then the remaining trees can get more of the sunlight and water they need. The work could be done this year.

The public can comment on the proposals by Jan. 20. The Forest Service will issue decisions for each project, some by summer and likely by the end of the year for others. Send comments to comments-pacificnorthwest-deschutes-bend-ftrock@fs.fed.us or to Kevin Larkin, District Ranger, Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District, 63095 Deschutes Market Road, Bend, Oregon, 97701. Comments can also be dropped off at that address, or called in. For more information, call 541-383-4721 and visit http://bit.ly/2hZu4Oh.

— Reporter: 541-617-7812,

hcorrigan@bendbulletin.com

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