Fallen Leaf Lake forest thinning project to begin this week
A section of forest near Fallen Leaf Campground will be closed to pedestrians through August as the U.S. Forest Service removes trees and brush. The project is part of a large-scale forest fuel reduction project at the South Shore.
The Forest Service expects to resume work on the South Shore Hazardous Fuels Reduction and Healthy Forest Restoration Project this week. The project began in 2012 and includes thinning on more than 10,000 acres at the South Shore in an effort to reduce wildfire risk and improve forest health. Thus far, about 3,200 acres of land at the South Shore has been thinned under the project.
The operation near Fallen Leaf Lake involves whole-tree removal over the next several months along Fallen Leaf Road. The area will be closed due to public safety concerns while heavy machinery is operating.
“Mechanical whole-tree removal involves cutting the entire tree and moving it to the landing area to remove the limbs and cut it into sections,” according to a press release from the Forest Service. “This type of mechanical operation requires closure of the area during operations due to the hazards posed by heavy equipment and falling trees. The Forest Service will issue a forest order closing the project area [units 1 and 148] to pedestrians from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily from approximately May 15 through Aug. 15.”
Hazards may be present even when operations have ceased for the day and the closure is not in effect, according to the agency.
Campers at Fallen Leaf Campground may hear and see work on the project, but the thinning should not impact operation of the campground, said Forest Service spokeswoman Lisa Herron.
Work is also expected to start soon on a thinning operation near Pope Beach, Herron said. The project may impact usage of the Pope-Baldwin Bike Path as soon as next week.
“In addition to temporary closures of recreational areas, other short-term impacts from fuels reduction projects include changes to the appearance of basin forests,” according to the press release. “Treated areas look disturbed at first, but recover visually within a few years. Overall benefits to forests in treated areas include reducing fuel for wildfires and providing the remaining trees with less competition for resources such as water, sunlight and nutrients, which allow the trees to grow larger and become more resistant to drought, insects and disease.”
An additional benefit of whole-tree removal is it does not require follow-up prescribed burns, Herron said.
More information about the South Shore Project can be found at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/southshorefuelreduction.