BLM planning to address dead and dying Douglas firs in the Applegate Valley

APPLEGATE VALLEY, Ore.– The Bureau of Land Management is working on a 5,000 acre project in the Applegate, to treat thousands of Douglas fir trees that are dying or have already died.

BLM said drought conditions and climate change have caused trees to die rapidly over the past year.

BLM is planning to use prescribed fire, as well as commercial and non-commercial logging to get rid of any hazardous trees.

It said it only has about a two year window before the trees lose commercial value.

BLM’s Lisa Meredith said, “we have been suppressing fires for over 100 years, so this landscape is highly departed from what it was historically.”

The Bureau of Land Management is working on an environmental assessment to help the Douglas fir population in the Applegate.

BLM said the trees are dying at a very high rate from a number of environmental factors and they need a plan to get rid of any trees that pose danger to roadways or private property.

The organization is currently considering a number of methods, including prescribed burns and logging.

BLM’s Medford District Manager Elizabeth Burghard said, “we need to look at potential outcomes and think about what the long-term result is going to be and recognize that as we’re planning for the future.”

If the trees aren’t treated in any way, they can pose even more danger during fire season.

In many cases, the dead trees have no moisture in them at all, making them dangerous fuels for wildfires.

They are also more likely to fall during wind storms or wildfires.

BLM Fire’s Miranda Stuart said, “it makes it very difficult and it also leaves a lot of heavy fuel on the ground, which puts out a lot of heat, which becomes an issue for holding and maintaining those fire lines as the fire progresses.”

BLM said they aren’t planning on releasing their final environmental assessment until the fall.

Some local residents are concerned about the environmental impacts of the project and about the effectiveness of BLM’s proposed treatment.

Concerned resident Luke said, “I think it’s important to not just paint this picture of everything positive and actually acknowledge that there are impacts associated. They’re inherent to this process.”

BLM said they are still working to identify all of the ecological impacts of the project.

They project work could start late this year.

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Former NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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