14 Feb 2008, 3:16am
by admin

The Jim’s Creek Savanna Restoration Project

Stand Diagnosis of Treatment Needs, Silvicultural Prescription, and Silvics Background Paper (Effects Analysis) — Jim’s Creek Savanna Restoration Project

by Tim Bailey, Middle Fork Ranger District, Willamette National Forest, August, 2005

Full text [here] (755KB)

Selected excerpts and some thoughts by Mike Dubrasich

Two hundred years ago the upper reaches of the Willamette River were occupied by the Molalla Indians. They may have been relative newcomers; it is conjectured that before the 1700’s the Kalapuya Indians controlled that area. In any case, evidence suggests that human beings lived in the Willamette Valley and adjacent Oregon Cascades for thousands of years.

The evidence is an oak savanna that extends deep into the mountains, including along the Middle Fork of the Willamette River above Oakridge. Today remnant old oaks, open-grown old-growth ponderosa pines, and tarweed (Madia spp) fields can still be seen, although a thicket of Douglas-fir has invaded in the last 100 years.

In 1984 an anthropologist named Carol Winkler did her Masters thesis on the ancient savannas of the Middle Fork. Later she teamed up with an intrepid USFS forester/silviculturalist named Tim Bailey, and together they resolved to restore the savanna, fields, and open pine forest of the Willamette Molallas.

In 2002 they presented a paper, Restoring the Cultural Landscape At Jim’s Creek: Challenges to Preserving a Spirit of Place, at the 55th Annual Northwest Anthropological Conference, Eugene, Oregon. April 11-13, 2002.

Carol died of cancer in 2005. From her obituary [here]:

Carol Winkler was born Aug. 20, 1950, in Chicago, to William and Audrey May Winkler. She married Tom Ulmschneider in 2003.

She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado in 1971 and a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Oregon in 1984. She lived and worked in Africa for three years.

She had lived in Eugene for 28 years. She was the district archaeologist for the Middle Fork Ranger District in the Willamette National Forest, where she worked to preserve archaeological sites and historic properties. She worked in the Forest Service Passport in Time program and gave presentations at campgrounds and in the professional community. She presented her research at Northwest Anthropological conferences.

Winkler had mentored Northwest Youth Corps students and hosted the archaeological field school for Western Oregon University. She received recognition for contributing to the Willamette National Forest’s participation in the Smithsonian Institution’s Folk Life Festival in June, in Washington, D.C. She had worked in wilderness management and management of the Heritage Program.

She belonged to the Association of Oregon Archaeologists, the National Association of Interpreters, Friends of the University of Oregon Museum of Natural History and the Lane County Historical Society.

A world traveler, Winkler also enjoyed rafting, hiking, kayaking, gardening, cooking and reading. Her family will remember her for her enthusiasm for life, integrity and slapstick sense of humor.

Survivors include her husband and a sister, Nancy Winkler, of Marblehead, Mass.

Tim Bailey persevered on the Jim’s Creek Project. Despite all the turmoils of an agency falling apart, he made it his personal goal to restore Jim’s Creek. In an area of perhaps 25,000 acres, Tim identified, mapped, planned, and got approved a 450 acre restoration treatment.

The treatment will remove most of Douglas-firs and leave about 20 trees per acre:

The largest and oldest trees in the stands; in particular large ponderosa pine and mature oak trees will be retained. This [preferred] alternative will also:

• remove excess trees using helicopter and cable yarding methods to protect soils and residual vegetation, heritage resources, and to avoid the need to construct additional roads;

• reduce fuels created by the tree removal by piling and burning;

• provide for planting of native Oregon white oak, understory grasses, and other native herbaceous vegetation;

• abate noxious weeds in meadows and along the existing road system;

• provide for meadow restoration (removal of encroaching small trees, planting of native species, and application of periodic prescribed fire);

• create snags, both in the areas of excess tree removal and in the two existing shelterwood harvested stands;

• reduce tree density in the four existing plantations;

• apply prescribed underburning in the four existing plantation, and eventually all treated areas to maintain the open character of the savanna, once that planted oak trees attain a large enough stem size to allow them to survive the periodic underburning;

• maintain about 4.2 miles of existing system gravel roads by brushing, ditch cleaning, replacing 18 culverts, and surface gravel replacement;

• Close about 3 miles of system roads within the project area (roads 2129-367, 371, 375 and 435) once management activities are completed to improve wildlife habitat and reduce risks to water quality.

The [preferred]alternative will yield an estimated 11.9 million board feet of wood products. No living trees present in the original savanna are proposed for removal. An average of 20 of the largest living trees on the site will be retained. In general, regardless of age, trees equal to or in excess of 24 inches in diameter at breast height will be retained. Pine and oak trees of any size will be retained, except as noted below. In one 16 acre area centered on the largest meadow, dense young pines encroaching upon the meadow will be thinned. Trees in the 100 year age class greater than 24 inches in diameter that are directly competing with mature pine or oak may also be removed. The spacing of retained trees will be quite variable and may result in creation of small openings up to an acre in size. Riparian Reserves along the eight class IV (intermittent) streams within the project area will have excess trees removed within them since these areas were once part of the original savanna, but a no-treatment buffer averaging about 50 feet either side of these ephemeral channels will be retained to protect channel stability and water quality. Fish bearing streams will be protected by the retention of undisturbed forest on slopes within 340 feet from such stream channels.

An Environmental Assessment was completed, and no appeals filed (the quote above is from the EA). A Stewardship Contract was bid, accepted, and signed. The Jim’s Creek Savanna Restoration Project is going to happen, soon.

Jim’s Creek is a model project. The analysis and treatments are exactly what the USFS should be doing on millions of acres, heck, tens of millions of acres. It will SAVE old-growth from catastrophic fire. It will protect, maintain, and perpetuate wildlife habitat, clean water, a heritage cultural landscape, and the local economy. It will restore the historical ecological conditions that create old-growth, including anthropogenic fire.

What could be better?

The whole world needs to come see Tim and Carol’s project. Well, maybe not the whole world, but a large number of Congresspersons and the entire leadership of the USFS need to see it.

Jim’s Creek is it. This is what stewardship is all about. This is the future of our National Forests, the best possible future, anyway.

Tim and Carol are forestry heroes. A giant bouquet of SOS Forest kudos are sent their way.

It is sad that Carol did not live to see this day, but we honor her legacy, and she will always be remembered, as long as the birds sing, the breeze wafts, and the acorns ripen in the sun on the oaks of Jim’s Creek.

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