As many of you have probably noticed, several trees on the river right bank of the White Salmon River, just downstream from Husum Falls, were recently cut down. The downed trees and resulting slash piles are currently lying on the trail that many rafters take when moving between the Husum Falls throw rope rock and the large river right recovery eddy downstream of Husum. I’m sure that many river users, already concerned by the recent illegal clearing of trees by White Salmon property owners, were wondering how this could be happening again.
However, this is not the case of a property owner cutting trees for a better view of the river. In this case, the trees, located on the small parcel of Forest Service land on the river right side of the White Salmon immediately upstream from the Husum Bridge, were infected by insects and diseased. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Forest Service cut several trees on their property, because the trees had become infected by an invasive species of bark beetle. The infected trees were either dead or dying. Cutting the trees mitigates the safety risk from falling trees, and also gives the Forest Service the opportunity to dispose of the infested wood to prevent the beetles from spreading. The limbs and debris from cutting the trees are currently piled and will be burned sometime in the future. The piles are wrapped in plastic to prevent the beetles from spreading during the burning process.
Jonathan Erickson from the CRGNSA Forest Service sent an email earlier today updating us on the cutting of the trees and explaining their plans for disposal of the debris. The following is his email:
This week the CRGNSA fire and recreation staff fell several trees on a small parcel of USFS land just upstream from the Husum bridge that provides access to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) facilities on the west side of the White Salmon River. The trees that were felled were brought down because they were either infected / dead due to insect infestation and presented a safety risk to the DNR facilities. Once the trees were down we removed and piled all of the green limbs. These piles will be wrapped in a plastic wrap and then burned at a later time. The piles and plastic, while unsightly, is necessary to prevent any remaining insects from escaping when the piles are burned. Our preference would be to chip the material, but we didn’t have the financial resources to make this happen. I wanted all of you to know why the piles are there and why we the piles are wrapped in plastic. I understand that the piles are visible from the highway and river and that they aren’t very aesthetic. Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me anytime.
Kindest Regards and I wish you all the very best in 2016.
Wild and Scenic Rivers, Wilderness and Recreation, Forest Service