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QMS Logging Project
(Quartzville-Middle Santiam)

In Spring, 2019, the Sweet Home District of the Willamette National Forest proposed a huge timber sale project in a large portion of our proposed national monument. Traditionally, timber sale projects consist of 1-10 "units" each amounting to 50-200 acres. The QMS project proposed to offer an extraordinary 290 units totaling 7900 acres.

The Forest Service District's announced "purpose and need" is to:

1) Contribute to a predictable, sustainable supply of forest products to help maintain the stability of local and regional economies and markets; 

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2) Improve stand growth, diversity and structure in young, dense plantations within Late Successional Reserves (LSR) in order to promote late-successional conditions; and

3) Sustainably manage the network of roads in the QMS project area by identifying a minimum roads system.

Definitions

QMS: A Forest Service designation for this project comprising areas in the Quartzville Creek and Middle Santiam watersheds.

"To accomplish the purpose and needs, the project proposes approximately 7,900 acres of vegetation management treatments using a combination of thinning, shelterwood with reserves, dominant tree release, gap creation, and non-harvested skips."
"Treatments are proposed in both the matrix (2,300 acres) and LSR (5,600 acres) land allocations. Only plantations less than 80 years old are proposed for treatment in the LSR. They range in age from approximately 25 to 60 years old. No shelterwood treatments are proposed in the LSR. In the matrix land allocation, treatments would take place on both managed plantations and natural, fire regenerated stands. Plantations range in age from 25-50 years old. Fire regenerated stands range from about 100 to 150 years of age. Treatments would take place in the Riparian Reserves in both LSR and Matrix, but not in stands over 80 years of age. Commercial harvest would be completed using a combination of skyline, ground-based, and helicopter yarding systems."

LSR: Late Successional Reserve. Areas designated by the Northwest Forest Plan to be managed to return the area to old-growth characteristics.

 

Matrix: Areas outside the LSR characterized by interspersed private holdings, and in which no administrative restrictions exist on harvesting methods.

qms fingered units map
Nearly 300 loging units  are scattered around the western portion of our proposed Douglas Fir National Monument. The black fingers are pointing to the units of greatest concern. -  those containing streams that need to be “buffered”, units that are adjacent to each other and units directly impacting recreational areas. Click here to go to a full-sized version of this map.

Shelterwood Logging: Harvesting where selected trees remain scattered throughout the tract to provide seeds for regeneration and shelter for seedlings.

 

Dominant tree release: As used in the QMS Report this seems to mean cutting the tallest or oldest trees to open the canopy and encourage younger, possibly diverse species.

 

NEPA terminology
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions.
Agencies sometimes will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the most comprehensive environmental analysis. An Environmental Assessment (EA) is an abbreviated and less detailed analysis of the impact of a project.

Concerning plantations, the Forest Service acknowledges that plantations lead to high risk fuel loading. "Overstocked stands have contiguous vegetation that can escalate the potential for high severity wildfires."

plantation 1 graphic

Thinning involves removing some of the plantation crowding to open the understory and to allow the remaining trees more room and less competition to grow. The degree of thinning in any particular unit is not defined for the QMS project.

plantation 2 graphic

The Sweet Home Ranger District is in the process of developing an Environmental Analysis (EA) of the Project. The draft Environmental Analysis is expected sometime in early 2021. More information can be obtained at the Forest Service QMS information site. This project will have significant impact on our proposed Douglas Fir National Monument. 

Go here to see our complete comments.

Submit your comments to the Forest Service here.

The Board of the Friends of Douglas-Fir National Monument (FDFNM) has been monitoring the QMS project since it was proposed, and offering comments on several occasions thus far. The comments offered can be summarized as follows:

We don't oppose the production of forest products (lumber) under the right circumstances. There are plenty of plantations that need to be strategically thinned, supporting jobs in the mills and the woods for decades to come. We support promotion of late-successional conditions (old growth) in the forest through restoration forestry.

After 14 months of study and field checking, we recommend the following implementation of the QMS project:

• The QMS project is much too large to be addressed by a simple EA. Several EIS are required because of the QMS project's large scope and potential impact.

• The QMS project is much too large for meaningful public comment.

• The QMS project must be separated into smaller projects of no more than 20 units each, each with their own EIS.

• The adjacent LSR units must be offered in separate projects, time-spaced to allow local wildlife to move on.

Restoration forestry: 
There are many definitions of “restoration forestry” Here is what we mean. Scientifically sound ecological restoration thinning in plantation stands to:

• accelerate the onset of
late-successional characteristics;

• provide for diverse native tree species;

• mimic more typical conditions of natural forest (small openings,
thick clumps of trees and erasing plantation crowding)

• facilitate the use of prescribed fire and managed fire; and

• decommission unnecessary roads (protect water quality and improve habitat for native wildlife).

• Existing large trees in LSR units are already on their way to old growth characteristics and must not be cut in the thinning process.

• Units that are inaccessible to the public due to landslides, locked gates, and impassible or no roads must be dropped.

• The Matrix units adjacent to private clearcuts must be dropped to minimize the cumulative affect across the broad landscape.

• All steep units that need helicopter logging must be dropped.

• All streams must be buffered. 

Not every plantation acre can be thinned, as some are not readily accessible by existing roads, are too steep, are too close to streams or should be left for other habitat and/or watershed values.
Necessary roads should be maintained and improved to minimize negative impacts on water quality and wildlife habitat.
As there are so many plantations, scientifically sound ecological restoration thinning operations can provide a flow of commercially valuable logs for local mills for some decades, providing logging, hauling and milling jobs. Watershed restoration activities, including road decommissioning and improvement will also be a significant source of jobs.

Go here for our full comments on the QMS project

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