The State Lands Restoration and Enhancement category provides funding to two state agencies to help repair damaged plant and animal habitat. These grants focus on resource preservation and protection of public lands. Projects in this category help bring important natural areas and resources back to their original functions by improving the self sustaining and ecological functionality of sites.
#16-1461 – Methow Forest Rehabilitation Project – Phase II At the completion of Phase 2, a total of 247 acres of Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir mixed conifer forests were commercially thinned. A total of 351 loads of logs were delivered to three mills in Darrington, Randle, and Cle Elum, Washington, thereby supporting the local economies. All loads were delivered over a span of twenty-seven working days for an average of 13 loads per day. The first sort of logs were Douglas fir saw logs. This sort was cruised at an estimated 4,727 tons and delivered 2,769.75 tons. The likely primary factor for this shortage was the amount of dead and dying Douglas-fir on the site. This dead and dying material impacted the cutout in two ways: 1) much of this wood had enough defect (primarily heart rot and checking) that it was kicked into the pulp deck (which accounts for the 16% overrun in that sort), and; 2) this dead and dying material did not weigh as much as healthy green timber, which severely impacted how much tonnage was delivered. Sort 2 consisted of Ponderosa pine saw logs. This sort was cruised at an estimated 2,636 tons and delivered 2,588.17 tons. Sort 3 consisted of pulp which was cruised at an estimated 2,409 tons and delivered 2,868.84 tons. Some of the additional work that was necessary to complete this harvest unit included the reconstruction and maintenance of haul roads, fire line construction, road watering, and gate installations. Income generated by the sale of timber has been rolled back into the project. In addition to commercially harvesting these stands, approximately 65 acres of overstocked pine forest was thinned by hand in areas not conducive to commercial logging equipment. This work was performed by the WDFW Burn Team. Once the trees were felled, the crew bucked them to manageable sizes and piled them for burning. Following fuels reduction (harvest and thinning) crews began to prepare the Bear Creek and Ramsey Creek areas for broadcast prescribed burning. In coordination with the prescribed burn manager, wildlife area manager and approval by the Department of Natural Resources, a prescribed burn plan was drafted and approved followed by the obtaining of a burn permit and approval to release smoke into the air shed. A WDFW crew hired specifically for implementing these burns accompanied by a local contract fire crew dug hand lines, setup pumps & sprinkler systems, and ignited the prescribed burn units in Ramsey and Bear Creek. In total, 386 acres of thinned forests received successful prescribed fire treatments. Approximately 7 miles of dozer and handline were constructed to support the safe implementation of the burn. There were 88 acres of forest treatment units burned in the Cub Creek 2 fire of 2021. Previous commercial thinning efforts funded by this grant had already greatly reduced the stocking rate of these forests, which proved instrumental in slowing the fires southern progression towards the town of Winthrop, Washington. In fact, the fire hit this thinned unit, slowed down, reduced in intensity, and gave wildland fire fighters an opportunity to stop its southern progression. Wildland fire crews were able to utilize our existing haul roads and fire line and add to their defense with an additional dozer line. This resulted in this unit becoming the heal of the fire, which was then successfully ushered away from town and back into the high country away from values at risk. This success story laid the foundation for educational field trips and community discussion about the benefits of healthy, rehabilitated forests. In addition to the successes above, approximately 4,000 pounds of native grass seed was spread aerially throughout 307 acres of treated forest stands. The native grass seeds utilized were predominantly from locally sourced collection sites, grown out in the Columbia Basin, and align with current and historic species compositions consistent with the area. Additionally, many small and large slash piles were intentionally burned during the project, which proved very beneficial in reducing large fuel loads before the Cub Creek 2 fire struck part of the treatment area in 2021. Also, this project laid the foundation for lots of community outreach, including field trips, shareholder discussions, and future planned community site visits to show the benefits of thinning and prescribed burning. Photo points were installed and will aid local staff in monitoring future advancements within the treatment areas. There were also local economy boosts in the form of hiring local contractors (logging and fire). Finally, the accomplishments of Phase II accompanied the successes of Phase I. Phase I resulted in approximately 400 acres of commercial thinning, 932 acres of cultural resources surveys with management plans for future forest restoration work, 260 acres of non-commercial thinning, 560 acres of prescribed fire fuels prep. and the establishment of road plans, the improvement of crossing structures, and abandoning disused road.