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Officials assess impact of wildfire on the Calf-Copeland Restoration Project

Photo of Calf-Copeland burned area, Dec. 2017 (via Umpqua National Forest)

ROSEBURG, Ore. – The U.S. Forest Service issued a project description for the Calf-Copeland area one week before wildfires burned through much of approximately 3,000 acres of forested stands initially proposed for restoration by Umpqua National Forest staff.

Now the agency is ready to restart the restoration project after assessing the impacts from the fires in 2017.

To help the public understand the effects of fire on the project’s landscape, they created a story map that uses a series of aerial and ground-based photographs linked to a map of the project. The story map is available at https://arcg.is/j0Cym and provides snapshots of different severities of fire in the Calf-Copeland project area.

“Lightning on August 11th started three fires – Happy Dog, Copeland and Brokentooth fires - that burned through parts of the Calf-Copeland project area,” said North Umpqua District Ranger Bill Mulholland, whose district includes the Calf-Copeland project. “In most of the areas where we proposed management, fire created a mosaic of light underburns and unburned areas. Only one stand we’d proposed for thinning was completely burned. Otherwise, we saw more torching of a single tree or small groups of trees.”

The intent of the Calf-Copeland Restoration Project is to restore landscape resiliency to fire, preserve old-growth habitat, and save centuries-old ponderosa and sugar pine over a more than 50,000-acre landscape. The project would also improve aquatic habitat by potentially changing motor vehicle access on nearly 20 miles of roads and trails, placing logs in Calf Creek, and repairing two small wetlands.

The planning area is located in the heart of the Umpqua National Forest and includes the Dry Creek Community. “After last summer’s wildfires, we’re now considering there may be a need for work within the wildland urban interface areas around private property in the Dry Creek area,” said Mulholland.

Mulholland shared that the fires may have generated a need for additional restoration beyond the original proposal. “We may consider reintroducing pines back into severely burned areas where they once grew but were then replaced by planted Douglas-firs after logging,” said Mulholland.

Fire killed a number of the oldest and most stately sugar and ponderosa pines within the project area. The Calf-Copeland project was originally intended to reduce competition for space, water and nutrients for these legacy pines. Prior to the fires, scientists estimated that as much as 25 percent of the legacy pines in the project area were dying every 10 years due to a combination of overcrowding, insects and disease. The agency now anticipates additional mortality from insects and burn damage that isn’t yet visible.

The agency is re-initiating a revised proposed action for the Calf-Copeland Restoration Project in February. In the meantime, comments or questions can be addressed to comments-pacificnorthwest-umpqua-northumpqua@fs.fed.us.

Scoping materials for the project are available online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=46990. A paper copy of these documents can be requested by contacting the Umpqua National Forest at (541) 957-3200.

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