Goose Project

There are several purposes for the Goose Project; one is to thin overly dense forest stands, allowing the larger trees which remain to grow better. Also, the project will improve wildlife forage, reduce the risks of fires near homes, and create jobs.

The project is located surrounding the community of McKenzie Bridge, OR. The questions and answers below attempt to clarify some of the points raised recently.

  1. What is the Goose Project? The Goose project is a multi-purpose project intended to reduce fire risk adjacent to the community of McKenzie Bridge, provide timber and family-wage jobs for Oregonians, and improve wildlife forage for deer, elk and other species.
     
  2. How was the public informed about the project? The project was first announced in April, 2009 using the Ranger District’s standard outreach process: approximately 70 letters were sent to folks on the mailing list, the project notice was put on the web, and a legal advertisement was placed in the Eugene Register Guard, the official paper of record. Additionally, in June, a field trip was offered and 15 members of the community attended that event. Once the initial project design and analysis was complete, a notice in the Eugene Register Guard let folks know that the Draft Environmental Assessment was open for 30 day public review. Upon learning in 2012 that some landowners were surprised to learn about the project, the District Ranger immediately held a public meeting where approximately 110 community members attended.
     
  3. Why is the project still moving forward given the concerns voiced in March and April, 2012?We have responded to the concerns raised by residents and made numerous adjustments to the project; including modifying the project near private property boundaries. We have also reviewed the analysis and believe the science is sound and that the project should continue. The project will thin crowded stands of trees and allow for the remaining trees to grow larger more quickly, as well as capture the economic value of the smaller trees being removed. The small gaps being created will provide forage habitat for deer, elk and other wildlife. The thinning near some streams will help the remaining trees grow larger more quickly; thus producing better conditions for wildlife and fish.

    Many of the concerns residents brought up at the March 2012 meeting were already addressed in the environmental assessment and decision for the project.  Although we regret surprising some residents in 2012, many of the comments we received in the last few months we had heard previously and incorporated those concerns. We are also responding to new ideas and incorporating those ideas into our implementation plans wherever possible.
     
  4. Are you cutting Old Growth?  No, the harvest plans purposely exclude cutting larger, older trees that are present within the larger planning area. Harvest will occur of trees that are from 40-120 years, with the bulk of the harvest occurring of trees that are 60-80 years old. While definitions of Old Growth vary by region and the scientist making the analysis, generally in the McKenzie Bridge area a tree is not considered Old Growth until it is 200 years old. Some people have told us they are not in favor of any logging or would prefer we only thin plantations under the age of 80.
     
  5. How will this project add to known flooding issues on private lands? The thinning treatments associated with this project are expected to have little effect on snow intercept and snow melt, which are substantial contributors to most large flood events. Any effect at all would be very short lived, as the tree canopies are expected to close quickly (5-6 years) in these fast-growing stands. In addition, 43 miles of road maintenance will reduce the current level of risk that failed road drainage features will contribute to concentration and/or re-direction of flood flows.
     
  6. Why are there gaps being created within the thinned units? The small 1-3 acre openings will be cut to add diversity to the forest, control the spread of root disease, and provide food and habitat for species ranging from insects to big game. Planting will occur in some gaps to increase diversity. By not planting all gaps, we ensure that wildlife have good places where young brush is growing – this is the best forage habitat for deer and elk.
     
  7. Will this project affect the McKenzie River and its tributaries?No, our environmental analysis clearly shows that mitigations such as no cut buffers along streams, no road construction and Best Management Practices such as erosion control and prevention will result in no pollution of the water. All harvest activities are well away from the McKenzie River.
     
  8. Why/how were units chosen or selected for harvest or fuels reduction? In the initial stages of project planning, all stands in the project area are looked at as to their ability to meet the purposes of the project. We use an interdisciplinary team to plan our projects. The team includes fish and wildlife biologists, hydrologists, soil scientists, fire managers, vegetation managers and others. They work together to identify the best places to undertake action and identify the places where no action is best. The team advises the District Ranger, who also considers the concerns identified by the public.
     
  9. I own property adjacent to National Forest, will my property be affected?You will be able to see the thinned units from the edge of your property boundary. However, immediately adjacent to your property, we will be ‘feathering’ our activity to minimize visual impact. Some of the specific mitigation measures include:
    • The entire project focuses on leaving the largest trees;
    • No trees greater than 36” diameter at breast height (dbh) will be cut within 350 feet of a private residential boundary;
    • We are implementing a no harvest buffer around a maple grove in unit 420, as well as protections from harvest at other unique locations;
    • There will be a 172 foot no harvest buffer around special interest areas in unit 380.
       
  10. What about the effects on tourism, aesthetics, and wildlife habitat? Thinning and fuel treatments won’t be noticeable on the landscape from town, major routes, or the McKenzie River; there are no large openings planned with this project.  The project involves thinning tree, burning to reduce fuel loads near private lands and creating small openings to create forage for wildlife.
     
  11. What will be done about the concerns residents have about timing of log haul and speed of log truck traffic; especially on North Bank Road? Many comments and concerns were noted at the March 12th meeting. Restrictions that we can put on the contracts are:
    • No holiday or weekend haul;
    • No log haul on North Bank Road before 6:00 am or after 6:00 pm;
    • No Jake brakes on North Bank Road.

Another issue raised was the speed along North Bank Road. North Bank is a County road and outside of the scope of the timber sale contract. However, we will work with contractors and the County to define what is a ‘reasonable and prudent speed’ for this road. We will continue to work with the County throughout the project to address any issues that may arise. It is important to realize that not all of the sales will be using North Bank Road.

  1. How will roads be closed?Once the need for using the temporary road is done (after log harvest, log haul and burning of slash), roads will be closed. Closure method will be determined at the time of closure, but generally an earthen berm is the most secure way of keeping vehicle traffic out of the area. Monitoring of road closures is one place where we expect the community monitoring team to be especially helpful.
     
  2. Roads that will be closed or decommissioned could be restored with mycorrhizal fungi as well as native plants. If the road is ripped and grass seeded, it is common for seed not to take and weeds come in which takes much longer to be restored. Also, instead of rocking haul roads, wood chips could be used to restore roads and nutrients could be recycled while the harvest is still happening. Restoring of temporary roads with Mychorrizal fungi and plants is technically and economically possible. However, tilling some roads may be the quickest way to mitigate for compaction. Using wood chips to surface the road during logging is an idea that may work under certain circumstances depending on soil types and terrain.
     
  3. You mentioned that environmental data will be monitored throughout the project; how will that be done? Monitoring is an important aspect of responsible land stewardship. We are gathering together a group of community members who are interested in assisting with the monitoring. We are asking interested citizens who are interested in this, and other projects, to contact the McKenzie River Ranger District at 541.822.3381 to sign up.
     
  4. How is the project reviewed? Projects are reviewed two or three times before they are released. Once the Ranger District has completed the analysis, another team of specialists reviews the document. After this review, and any necessary edits are completed, the project is then put out for additional public comment and review. All public comments received are responded to, and that response is included in the final environmental assessment document that accompanies the decision.

    After a decision has been made, members of the public may appeal that decision to the next higher level of the organization. At that point, an Appeals Review Team is formed. This team is composed of managers from various disciplines who do not work on the Willamette National Forest. These team members provide a review of the appeal points and make an independent assessment and recommendation as to whether or not the decision should be upheld. The Goose project was appealed, reviewed, and the decision upheld.

    All projects that have threatened, endangered or sensitive species of plants, fish or wildlife within the project boundary are also reviewed by regulatory agencies like the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Both of these agencies reviewed the Goose Project.
     
  5. Why did you do an EA instead of an EIS?  This was one of the appeal points. Similar vegetation management techniques and practices are done across the Willamette National Forest; and the effects are not found to significantly impact the environment.
     
  6. When are different projects and different sales implemented? The timber sales associated with the Goose Project are slated to be sold over the course of about two years, starting in Fiscal Year 2012. After the contracts are awarded, the sales will have a life of up to about six years, so final harvest could occur as late as 2019. This is contingent on factors outside the control of the Forest Service such as the lumber market, and new home starts. Other activities, such as noxious weed treatment, forage enhancement, wildlife habitat enhancement, planting, fuels treatments, etc… are slated to occur after harvest is complete.
     
  7. What changes will be made in the project or future projects? We are finding the recent comments helpful in refining the implementation and monitoring for the project.  Several residents have volunteered to assist us in making the project even better.   Residents have made several suggestions about weed treatments, timing and noise considerations, ways logging traffic can be accommodated safely and offered to monitor road closures.  We are able to accommodate these changes under the current decision as we implement.

    We are excited to see this level of public interest. In future projects, we are looking forward to incorporating public concerns upfront in our planning process through better initial outreach, field trips, community meetings, and personal contacts. We also hope that building these relationships with community members will result in greater participation in our planning as well as submitting project ideas to us.
     
  8. I would like to be notified in the future before decisions are made. There are several ways to be notified of future projects including: submitting your name to our public mailing list, calling, visiting our office, or reviewing the Projects section of the Forest website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/willamette/landmanagement/projects

How to get involved

  • Contact:
    McKenzie River Ranger District

    57600 McKenzie Hwy
    McKenzie Bridge, OR 97413