Local News

Forest Health; Community Protection Key Factors of Light Project

Jan 29, 2017

Twelve miles west of Tonasket, a beloved forest rises above the calm blue surface of Bonaparte Lake in the cold winter air. Countless generations of forest visitors have used this area to swim, hike, camp and connect with nature. Standing on the western shore of the Lake, Tonasket District Ranger, Matt Reidy sees a critical opportunity to restore a forest in decline and protect federal, state and private lands at the same time.

“Decades of full fire suppression, bark beetles, western spruce budworm and Dwarf mistletoe have taken their toll on this dense, overstocked forest,” said Reidy. “Now is the time to act- thousands of acres are ripe for destructive fires or additional insect and disease outbreaks”.

The 8,600 acre Light Restoration Project would include thinning, prescribed burning, stream bank stabilization, treating invasive grasses, replacing undersized culverts and providing sustainable forest access.

Key preferred alternative information:

  • Thinning, combined with prescribed fire, would restore forest conditions that were historically more open improving forest health and wildlife habitat.
  • These treatments would also reduce potentially destructive wildfire impacts to neighboring state and private lands along approximately 13 miles of shared boundary as well as infrastructure around Bonaparte Lake.
  • The project is projected to generate more than $1.3 million dollars in timber value at the mill and support more than 300 jobs. 
  • More than 600 acres old growth were identified in the project area and there are 150 acres of treatment designed to maintain Forest Plan Old Growth.
  • Firewood cutting opportunities would exist wherever feasible, after non-commercial thinning operations have been completed.

“Environmental, social and economic benefits all flow from a healthy and restored forest,” said Reidy. “Working together with our community, we are on a good path forward for the Bonaparte Lake area for current and future generations.”

In accordance with federal regulations, the Forest Service is currently in a 45-day formal objection period on the final Environmental Analysis which began with a legal notice published in the Wenatchee World on January 24, 2017. Written objections may be provided via online at: tinyurl.com/gumbaom or delivered to: Regional Forester, Attention: 1570 OBJECTIONS, Pacific Northwest Region, P. O. Box 3623, Portland, OR 97208 (US Mail) [or for physical delivery: 1220 SW 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97204].

A paper copy of the EA is available at the District office to review during regular business hours. A final Decision Notice is expected in the spring of 2017.

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