The Natural Resources Department works in partnership with Douglas Forest Protective Association and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to carry out fuels reduction activities on Tribal forest lands. These activities include thinning excess trees, pruning low branches, and treating the resulting “slash” by one of several methods. Light volumes of slash may be “lopped”, or cut into short pieces and scattered about the forest floor to decompose, while heavier slash loadings are usually piled and burned during the wet season. Where road access allows, slash may also be chipped with a mobile chipper.
Dense stands of trees with low-hanging branches can create serious fire conditions should a wildfire start. The objective of fuels reduction work is to reduce the volume of forest fuels so that any wildfire that happens to start is easier to control. A side benefit of the thinning is that scarce water, sunlight, and nutrients are shared among fewer trees. The result is a healthier forest.
Recent fuels reduction work on Tribal lands includes 47 acres of cutting, lopping, and scattering on the Winston property adjacent to Wildlife Safari. An earlier project on the same property involved cutting and piling of slash; these piles will be burned during the coming wet season. Another recent project included cutting and piling, then burning the piles on 43 acres of Tribal properties along the Canyonville-Riddle Highway and Rod & Gun Club Road. Our fuels reduction work is targeted toward the “wild land-urban interface”, or areas where population centers meet rural forest lands, as well as areas surrounding critical infrastructure, such as the Tribe’s drinking water system near Canyonville.
An important component of any planning effort is knowledge of the resources at hand. In forestry, an inventory provides that knowledge. A forest inventory is accomplished by an intensive collection of data on a systematic grid of plots spread throughout the forest. Data collection includes tree and shrub composition, size, age, growth rates, and many other parameters. These data are summarized to help answer management questions such as: How fast are the Tribe’s forests growing? Where are culturally-important shrubs such as California Hazel found on Tribal lands? What restoration opportunities, such as oak woodland restoration, exist on Tribal lands and where are they located?
The Natural Resources Department is currently planning a forest inventory project with the support of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This work will be informative for developing a forest management plan for Tribal lands. Such a plan, along with the environmental assessment required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), will soon be underway on Tribal lands.
Firewood is an important resource to Cow Creek Tribal members. the Tribe endeavors to meet Tribal member firewood needs by sourcing firewood logs from Tribal lands whenever possible. For the 2011-2012 winter season, firewood came from many sources. Several big-leaf maples trees were cut on the Weaver property to make way for for a new bridge across the South Umpqua river. Dead and dying incense cedar trees were removed from near the mouth of Jordan Creek. Small, scattered piles of logs from earlier construction activities were salvaged. Rather than hauling them off to the bonfire pile, logs from all these sources were gathered up and processed into firewood, re-purposing at it’s best!!!
In the fall of 2011, the Tribe implemented an oak woodland restoration project on the Tribe’s lilja project near Canyonville. While the primary objective of this restoration project was to increase the long-term vigor of the mixed hardwood/conifer forest, an important side benefit was the large volume of firewood created. This wood will be processed and dried for Tribal member use during the 2012-2013 season. Future firewood needs will be met by similar restoration projects, as well as utilization of other trees cut for Tribal development purposes.
The Tribe’s McNeil property serves as the firewood processing and distribution center. The large barn at McNeil Ranch, shown on the photo above, provides a large covered area to keep firewood dry while it seasons. Here, dozens of cords of firewood await their new home in tribal members’ fireplaces.