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Record December rains challenge forest roads

Fill slope erosion where the culvert was blocked with soil and debris washed downstream by the record December rains. 

Fill slope erosion where the culvert was blocked with soil and debris washed downstream by the record December rains. 

December 2015 saw some serious rainfall and storm events, far exceeding the previous record for precipitation in that month, and with that record rainfall came some major challenges to forest road infrastructure in northwest Oregon. During the most intense periods of rainfall, small landslides were a common occurrence on steep slopes, particularly where high cut-banks along roads became saturated. As small headwater streams became raging torrents, they sometimes overwhelmed culverts at stream crossings, particularly where soil and rock were being carried downstream and filling catch-basins. In such situations, the downhill side of the road fill is very vulnerable to erosion as the stream is flowing across the road and finding its way down the other side. Seen here is a picture of such a situation in the North Tualatin Mountains, west of Portland. 

Of course, no one knows what the rest of the winter and spring holds in store for us, but the break in heavy rain we are experiencing now (minus the snow and ice) presents a good opportunity to get out and survey forest roads and culverts for damage and assess whether maintenance is needed to keep them functioning properly for the remainder of our rainy season. 

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Watershed Tour

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Watershed Tour

Watershed Tour A Feast For Tree Lovers

Excerpt from  JAMES DAY Corvallis Gazette-Times

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Stop 1 included a new wrinkle for the tour, now in its ninth year. A short trail was carved off to the side of a rutted forest road to get participants closer to some of the forest’s older trees. The ground was crunchy and mulchy, with a fat slug perched on dead wood and black-and-yellow millipedes moseying about among the moss.

As the tour moved down the ridge Charlie Bruce of the watershed board spotted a bald eagle flying overhead. Mark Miller of Trout Mountain Forestry, which manages the watershed for the city, pointed in the direction of the bird’s nest … then talked some more about the forest.

“Our stewardship plan calls for three types of forests: middle-aged, plantation and old growth and older,” Miller said, while pointing toward a 180-year-old Douglas fir, the oldest tree in this stand.

“We have some trees that are 300 to 500 years old, but you only get one or two of those per acre.”

The city has been receiving drinking water from the area since 1906, but it wasn’t until after the start of the 21st century that the city put a plan in place to manage the forest. Miller notes that the first harvesting of trees took place in the 1920s and 1930s, “with the practices of the time: clear-cutting.”

“Our goal is forest health and resiliency from fire, wind, insects and disease,” Miller said. “Without a forest we don’t have good water quality. And a healthy forest needs timber harvests.”

Read the entire article at the Corvallis Gazette-Times

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