The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has finished removing between 100 and 150 burned trees that posed a risk to motorists on the Loup Loup Highway.
The trees — mostly ponderosa pine and some Douglas fir — were cut and hauled off from a two-mile section of Highway 20 on the west side of Loup Loup Pass, according to Methow Valley District Ranger Mike Liu. The work was done by WSDOT through an arrangement with the U.S. Forest Service, since the trees were on Forest Service land.
The project followed the Forest Service’s definition of “hazard trees.” The criteria include trees within two tree lengths of the roadway — that is, trees that could fall directly on the road or hit another tree and cause it to fall, said Liu.
Any trees with green needles, even if they were leaning slightly, have been left standing to see if they survive, said Liu. If not, they will most likely be removed next year. Not all burned trees are currently considered hazardous, since many still have solid roots, he said.
Most trees have been stacked and decked at the South Summit, where they will be sold as saw logs or for firewood, said Liu.
Branches that were deemed useful to prevent erosion near Frazer Creek were scattered on the ground to create a filter and mat to catch sediment. Other limbs and tops have been burned, said Liu.
There will be ongoing work to remove dead trees, probably for the next 10 to 15 years, as roots rot and trees become vulnerable to falling, said Liu.