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Bigger helicopter helps forest project finish on time

I was hiking on the Creek to Crest trail last week and was reminded a large part of the Ashland Forest trail system is closed. The trail posters indicate the Ashland Watershed restoration project is supposed to be complete by June 30. With all the rain and snow we've had this winter, will the project be finished in time to reopen all the trails by the end of June?

— Matilda K., Ashland

The persistent cloud cover, rain and show proved to be a bit trying for crews cleaning up the Ashland Forest Resiliency work that began Nov. 9 and is scheduled to finish June 30.

Even though weather stymied work for a while, the work is back on schedule, said Josh Budziak, a project design supervisor for Lomakatsi Restoration Project.

"You can't predict weather, you just do the best you can," Budziak said. "A helicopter needs one mile visibility, can't have clouds, heavy rain and snow, so we were delayed for a while."

Timberline Helicopters of Sandpoint, Idaho, responded by bringing in a bigger bird, a helicopter capable of packing out 8,000 pounds at a time.

"We were able to move a lot more logs more quickly, so we were able to catch up and to finish on our timeline," he said.

Some trails will be open prior to June 30, he said.

"We haven't finalized which ones, yet, but we will announce it when we do," he said. "As soon as the helicopter operations are over and we've completed the haul, we will open trails and Tolman Creek Road."

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.