By Ann McCreary

Boise Cascade Wood Products Manufacturing is the successful bidder for the Benzer Stewardship Project, a forest-thinning project that will be conducted in the South Summit area on Loup Loup Pass.

The Benzer Stewardship Project includes more than 2,000 acres of marking and thinning trees with commercial value, road decommissioning and fire line construction, according to information from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

The project may also include noxious weed treatment and thinning conifer trees from aspen stands. 

The Benzer Stewardship project is part of the initial phase of implementing the work analyzed as part of the South Summit II Environmental Assessment, which was signed in July last year.  

Another ongoing element is planting tree seedlings on more than 8,000 acres of severely burned areas within the Carlton Fire and decommissioning of roads deemed no longer needed for current and future management.  

Bruce Akker, north zone reforestation technician, said 1,500 acres have already been planted and at least 700 acres will be planted this fall. 

Commercial thinning in the project is intended to make timber stands more fire resilient and to expedite the development of large and mature stand structure. 

As a stewardship sale, the funds generated from selling the estimated 9.5 million board feet of timber can be used for other restoration work, which will also be performed by the timber purchaser. 

Depending on timber prices over the length of the sale, there are options for the purchaser to decommission an additional 5 miles of road, spray 72 acres of noxious weed-infested ground, and remove young conifer trees from around 6 acres of aspen stands, according to information from the Forest Service.

“We chose to use the stewardship authority for this sale over a traditional timber sale because it allows us to keep restoration activity costs down, provides for more flexibility in our district workforce and provides opportunities for local contractors,” said Mike Liu, Methow Valley district ranger.

The next phase of the project includes thinning small diameter trees and prescribed burning on 6,600 acres.

For more information about stewardship contracting, the Benzer Project and forest restoration activities on the Methow Valley Ranger District, contact Paul Nash, vegetation management staff officer for the north zone of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest at (509) 486-5153.