What will the Blackberry, Soda Creek timber harvest mean for Dunsmuir residents?

Shareen Strauss
Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers
13. Logging workers     • Average decibel level:  89.6 dBA (0.4% lower than the OSHA limit)     • Total employment, 2019:  37,960     • Annual median wage:  $41,230 Logging workers are in one of the noisiest jobs in America for one main reason -- chainsaws. These workers use chainsaws and other similar implements to fell trees. Chainsaws are among the noisiest tools a worker in any job would regularly use, producing decibel levels of around 115 dBA -- well beyond the threshold of noises considered safe, which is generally thought to be around 80-85 dBA.     ALSO READ: 25 Most Dangerous Jobs in America

After many questions and complaints from concerned  residents in Dunsmuir about the Blackberry Timber Harvest Plan on the Blackberry and Soda Creek ridges over Dunsmuir, city councilor Dave Keisler hosted a public information meeting last Friday with the companies involved in the project. 

Around 40 residents, most whom live on South First Street or that have property that borders the timberland where the cutting will take place, came to the Dunsmuir Community Building for answers and information. District 2 Siskiyou County Supervisor Ed Valenzuela and Lynda Scheben with the Disaster Planning and Action Committee were also in attendance.

Representatives from FWS Forestry and Jim Ostrowski, who wrote the timber plan, along with 
others, discussed a proposed timber 
harvest near Dunsmuir in the town’s community center last week.

John Vona, director for timberland management and environmental planner Clayton Code, both with FWS Forestry Services,  and Jim Ostrowski with Forest Management Services – who wrote the forest plan – gave a talk and slide show presentation. 

Letters from FWS Forestry were sent out to residents that have waterways near the harvest area. CAL FIRE will also mail out information to those who live within 300 feet of the harvest area after the plan is approved.

The THP plan reviews what impacts the project will have on wildlife and waterways, and also to address public concerns. 

The goals are to maintain forest productivity, mitigate the visual impact from the City of Dunsmuir, improve fire suppression, reduce fuel hazards adjutant to Dunsmuir, make sure landowners get return on their investments and to harvest the timber while mitigating potential significant impacts to the environment.

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The project includes commercial thinning, seed tree cuts, and clear cuts that will be done in phases and will include one to 30 acre patches that will leave buffers along streams for shade.  The total area, including roads, is 491 acres. Broken down, there will be 108 acres clear cut, 85 acres seed trees, 228 acres of commercial thinning. 6.5 miles of new roads, 32 acres of road right of way, and 2/10 of a mile of reconstruction, which includes replacing culverts for erosion and flood control.

Concerns that were raised about fire, noise, and damage or erosion to waterways, creeks and rivers. 

Seven viewpoints were analyzed for visual impact. 

The plan includes a truck route to avoid the residential areas and instead, logging trucks and equipment will come out at Mott Road where the traffic is light.

Commercial thinning will leave 50 to 100 trees per acre, retain healthy trees, and will reduce crown density and undergrowth for fire prevention. 

Seed tree harvest is a regeneration method leaving trees 18 inches in diameter, with spaced trees 4 to 8 per acre for re-seeding. This area may also be replanted. 

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Clear cutting is also a regeneration method leaving areas of sunshine that will be replanted. There will be groups of trees left for diverse habitation as well as screening to reduce visual size of openings. 

The informative presentation is available at the Dunsmuir Library. 

The last time this particular land was harvested was in the early 1900s, which caused flooding and erosion, according to Dunsmuir resident Mark Ostrom, who has a Facebook forum for the Dunsmuir community on Facebook. 

“I think this was a good presentation. They gave a lot of information in a short amount of time," Ostrom said.