Thinning, prescribed fire planned to restore Mt. Hull area; Comment period opens February 15

Tonasket, WA — 20 miles north of Tonasket, USFS Assistant Fire Management Officer Shawn Plank stands along the boundary line between Forest Service and state managed lands. For miles in either direction, it’s an unending wall of green from the ground all the way up to the tree tops. While some would just see a forest, Plank sees the next megafire waiting to happen- the next community at risk. But proactive thinning and prescribed fire planned in the newly released draft analysis for the Mt. Hull area is designed to change all that.

“Forest conditions in the Mt. Hull area need proactive management to be wildfire resilient as well as restored and maintained in healthy, functioning condition,” said Plank. “Aspen stands, meadows, and wildlife habitat will also benefit from returning fire to this landscape.”  

Proposed action highlights:

  • Over the next 10 years, good fire will be returned to the landscape, reducing hazardous fuels on approximately 19,000 acres with no more than 5,000 acres burned per year.
  • Aquatic habitat would be improved throughout the watershed with the replacement of two undersized culverts and improved livestock fencing.
  • Commercial thinning would help restore dense, overcrowded forests on 7,600 acres while non-commercial thinning is planned on just over 9,600 acres.
  • Proactive thinning and prescribed fire will reduce the high-intensity wildfire risk to thousands of acres of adjacent private and state lands along 22 miles of shared boundaries. 
  • The project is projected to generate more than $1.5 million dollars in timber value at the mill and support more than 300 jobs.
  • 28 miles of roads would remain open to provide for sustainable and safe forest recreation access. 44 miles of user created routes would be rehabilitated.
  • Firewood cutting opportunities would exist wherever feasible, after commercial and non-commercial thinning operations have been completed.

“We want to make sure folks have a chance to really look over and understand the project, so all of the documents and a new interactive map are available,” said Project Lead, Luke Cerise. “We’re looking forward to hearing from the community to craft the best possible decision.”

In accordance with federal regulations, the Forest Service will offer a 30-day formal comment period on the draft Environmental Analysis, which will begin with a legal notice published February 15, 2019. A final Analysis and draft decision is expected in the fall/winter of 2019. 

log deck at commercial thinning operation

A commercial thinning operation helps restore the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Tonasket, WA in December 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Matt Marsh.


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https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/okawen/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD610140