Bureau of Land Management addresses dying Douglas fir across southwestern Oregon
Medford, Ore. — More Douglas fir have died in southern Oregon in the last four years than the last four decades, according to an article in the Journal of Forestry. i Bureau of Land Management leaders want your feedback on the best strategy for how to respond to increasing tree mortality. The BLM is concerned about public safety along roadways, increased fire risk, changes in wildlife habitat, and economic impacts to local communities.
“Our top priority is to decrease risk to our local communities,” said Elizabeth Burghard, BLM Medford District Manager. “We are very concerned about the impacts of Douglas fir mortality on safe and effective wildland firefighting. We need the public’s help to decide where and how to take the most effective action.”
The BLM is proposing to remove dead and dying trees in strategic areas to improve community safety; assist with evacuations during wildfire events; provide access for emergency services; and provide firefighters safe and effective means to engage fire when it occurs.
BLM foresters hope to remove these dead and dying trees while the timber still has commercial value.
“By taking action now, we can sell the trees before they decay,” said Burghard. “The trees can pay their way out of the forest.”
“If we wait too long, these necessary treatments will come at a much higher cost to taxpayers,” she continued.
The BLM Medford District anticipates that the environmental analysis will cover an estimated 5,000 acres of commercial salvage, non-merchantable removal, and activity fuel treatments. Implementation of the work could happen using timber sales, stewardship contracts, and/or other service contracts to remove dead and dying material and associated activity fuels and begin in late 2024.
Input will be most beneficial if received by January 7, 2024. Additional information can be found on ePlanning at: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2027249/510.
i Bennett, M., Shaw, D.C. and Lowrey, L., 2023 a. Recent Douglas-fir Mortality in the Klamath Mountains Ecoregion of Oregon: Evidence for a Decline Spiral. Journal of Forestry, p.fvad007.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.