The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved a 464-acre forest restoration project that will involve timber harvesting in parts of the Rendezvous and Golden Doe units of the Methow Wildlife Area.
The Rendezvous-Golden Doe project, which is expected to begin this year, is intended to “restore ecological integrity, improve habitat quality for multiple species including mule deer, address forest health concerns, reduce wildfire risks and increase the proportion of large diameter trees,” according to the commission’s website.
Only portions of each unit will be treated. The Golden Doe unit of the wildlife area, which covers about 2,200 acres. is on the Twisp-Carlton Road. WDFW has been purchasing additional property in the area for the past several years. The Rendezvous Unit is located north of Winthrop, between the Chewuch and Methow rivers and totals more than 4,600 acres,
The Rendezvous-Golden Doe project will thin a total of approximately 2.5 million board feet of timber. WDFW will leave between 20 and 30 of the best available trees per acre “to improve habitat quality and put forests on accelerated trajectories to develop into resilient, fire-climax forests once again,” according to the website summary of a staff presentation to the commission on Jan. 13.
According to the summary, previous fire suppression efforts and logging practices have resulted in “overstocked conditions,” greater fire risk and less-diverse wildlife habitat.
Most of the area will be treated with feller bunchers and rubber-tired skidders on slopes of less than 40%, the report said. Steeper terrain will be treated with aerial yarding or cable-assisted machinery. The WDFW plans to follow up with prescribed burns and slash pile burns.
The project will use existing roads, skid trails and landings as much as possible, according to the report.
WDFW “believes that the project will break even assuming log and pulp prices do not fall, and fuel prices don’t get too high,” the report said. “If the project doesn’t break even, it can be subsidized with forest health funds.”