Jacksonville plan would tighten logging controls

JACKSONVILLE — Logging and forest management within city limits will be more strictly controlled under a proposed Community Forestry Plan.

Council members reviewed the plan — which has been 10 years in the making — and accompanying rules at their April 15 meeting and are expected to pass them with minor changes on May 6, said City Administrator Paul Wyntergreen.

He estimated that about 20 percent of the land within the city is forested. About half of that is public land and the other half is private. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Jackson County, as well as the city, own forested lands.

"Because of our large woodland area we will on occasions get logging requests," said Wyntergreen. The current logging code is just one page long.

"We've tried horse logging and all kinds of different treatments in the past because it is so difficult to log within a city," said Wyntergreen. "What we ran into problems with in the '90s was a logging plan so vague you really couldn't control things in terms of erosion and other impacts. We want to get something in place that will protect all the neighbors."

Protection of vegetation, soil, air, water, fish and wildlife are spelled out in an appendix to the plan that will become part of the city code.

The city's comprehensive plan has a space reserved for a forestry plan.

A 1997 grant from the Oregon Department of Forestry started the planning process. All forest lands in Oregon, including those in cities, are covered by ODF regulations. Municipalities, however, can adopt rules that are more stringent than the agency's Forest Practices Act. ODF reviews city plans to ensure that they provide protection.

"The plan will be much more in depth and covers a lot of subjects more than trees," said Paul Kangas, city forester. "We found there's a lot more of other things that need to be protected."

Types of trees and shrubs to be planted and those to avoid also are listed, along with planting recommendations.

Extensive private holdings on Third Street could one day be commercially logged, said Wyntergreen. Other logging could occur on BLM land in the southwest part of town, on county land or in the event of a fire or blight. Owners of small properties go through a separate permit process if they want to remove a tree.

An inventory of the city's forest is called for by the plan, said Kangas.

"What needs to be done is a complete inventory," said Kangas. "We have better technology now, such as GPS. We could develop a plan for replacing trees."

Public input to the plan was provided at meetings of the city Planning Commission and the Parks, Recreation & Visitors Services Committee.

"The plan covers what you can cut and can't cut and certain trees we don't want you to plant," said Councilman Dick Ames, a member of the parks committee, who worked on the plan. "It sets some standards for people."

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.

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