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Thinning, Prescribed Fire Major Tools of 60,000 acre Little Crow Project; Comment Period Opens November 9

Naches, WA —  Northwest of the community of Naches, nearly 60,000 acres of national forest stands unnaturally dense, ripe for a disease or insect outbreak and limiting old forest development. On a ridge along Raven’s Roost, local Naches Ranger District Silviculturist Justin Gelb highlights just what this stagnant forest looks and feels like.

“In many areas I find up to 400 trees per acre where historically, there would have been 50-150 trees in that same ground. There would have been a mosaic pattern of everything from large, old trees to open meadows,” said Gelb. “Instead we’re looking at a forest so dense it’s choking itself from ever maturing and functioning like a healthy forest should.”

But the Little Crow Project is also taking a holistic look at the landscape to address sustainable access, wildlife habitat, water quality, fish habitat, soil condition and more. Starting on November 9, 2018, the 30 day public comment period on the Draft Assessment and plan amendment is designed to continue public involvement on these issues.

“If you love this landscape, now is the time to get involved,” said Naches District Ranger, Kelly Lawrence. “We want to hear from you and understand your questions and concerns as this collaborative project moves forward.”

Key project information:

  • Over the next 10 years, good fire will be returned to the landscape, reducing hazardous fuels on approximately 25,000 acres with up to 4,000 acres burned per year.
  • Approximately 21,000 acres of commercial and non-commercial thinning are planned to improve forest health.
  • The project restores wildlife habitat for declining species, such as the American marten, by creating open woodland communities and promoting large, old tree growth.
  • More than 100 miles of system roads would remain open to provide for long-term sustainable and safe recreation access while reducing maintenance costs and impacts on streams.

A community open house about the project is planned for Monday, November 19, 2018 from 6-8pm at the Naches Ranger District office in Naches, Washington.

Partners in the Little Crow project include the Little Naches Workgroup and The Nature Conservancy, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Natural Resources, and the Yakama Nation through the Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative.

thinning operation

A commercial thinning operation helps restore the land, improve wildlife habitat, and support local jobs on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Credit: USDA Forest Service

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