Bybee project comment period extended two weeks

The U.S. Forest Service has rescheduled a 30-day public comment period for the Bybee vegetation management project in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Because the action alternative maps were difficult to read in the original material made available, the agency has reset the comment period, according to forest supervisor Rob MacWhorter.

Instead of ending Feb. 14, the new comment period, which began Tuesday, ends Feb. 28.

If the proposed alternative is selected in the 290-page environmental assessment for the project in the High Cascades Ranger District, some 45 million board feet of timber would be harvested.

The 16,215-acre project is scattered throughout a block shaped like the state of Oregon between Highway 230 and Crater Lake National Park. The southern tip of the tract is about 15 miles north of Prospect.

"The objectives of the Bybee vegetation management project are to improve forest stand conditions, which includes stand diversity, density and structure," MacWhorter said in a prepared statement.

"This will enhance forest health and resiliency in the Upper Rogue Watershed," he added. "This project also provides for commercial timber products while reducing the risk of high-intensity wildfires."

The proposed alternative has been modified since the project was first studied in 2010, officials said, noting that temporary road construction has been reduced and one unit has been proposed for helicopter logging.

Under the proposed alternative, 3,622 acres would be treated with a variety of silvicultural methods, including "free thinning" on 2,881 acres, which calls for removing trees to control stand density and favor desired tree species, while retaining legacy trees, officials said. Overstory removal would be employed on 438 acres, meaning that upper canopy layers would be removed to release trees or other vegetation in an understory, they said.

Roughly 85 percent — 3,095 acres — would be logged by tractor or other ground-based systems. Cable logging would be used on 83 acres. A combination of both tractor and cable systems would be used on 410 acres. Helicopter logging would be employed on 34 acres.

Another alternative would provide 34 million board feet of timber, and another would harvest 10 million board feet.

The timber harvest target for the forest for 2013 is 40 million board feet.

For more specifics on the project and how to comment, see

The EA is available for review from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at the Medford Interagency Office, 3040 Biddle Road, Medford.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or

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