When the 7,400-acre Headwaters Forest Reserve was acquired in 1999, approximately 60% of the Reserve had been timber harvested. Once Headwaters was established, the BLM was tasked with restoring these harvested lands back to the natural conditions found in adjacent unharvested lands. This restoration work has included forest thinning, as well as decommissioning and re-planting of old logging roads. Active monitoring and science projects have been used to assess the effectiveness of these restoration efforts in restoring the second-growth forests of Headwaters.
Since 2004, the BLM has thinned approximately 1,800 acres of previously logged forests throughout Headwaters, with another 100 acres planned for Summer/Fall 2013. The objective of these thinnings is to accelerate the development of regrowing forests towards mature forest stands. Once mature, the BLM hopes to reduce habitat fragmentation within Headwaters and create additional habitat for wildlife species that are dependent on mature forests, such as the marbled murrelet and the northern spotted owl.
When Headwaters was acquired in 1999, the area contained approximately 52 miles of old logging roads. These 52 miles included 122 known stream crossings and 49 known road fill failures or landslides. Where roads have not been regularly maintained, stream crossings can become plugged. These plugged crossings can cause large landslides, delivering large amounts of sediment to nearby streams. This reduces habitat quality for fish species within Headwaters, including Chinook and coho salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout.
Since 2000, the BLM has worked in partnership with the Pacific Coast Fish, Wildlife and Wetlands Restoration Association to decommission and restore 26 miles of old logging roads throughout Headwaters. An additional 5 miles are planned for the next several years. Road decommissioning involves the removal and recontouring of stream crossings, decompaction of road surfaces, recontouring road cuts, and replanting with redwood seedlings.