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CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Logging will begin this summer in a
watershed that has been studied for years to determine how fish are
affected by forest management practices, researchers say.
Oregon State University said timber harvest plans have been
approved for the Hinkle Creek Paired Watershed Study, one of the most
ambitious research efforts the state has made since the 1960s to
determine the impact of modern management practices on fish in forest
The study has already collected data for the past four years in
the watershed, which stretches across about 5,000 acres in the
foothills of the central Cascade Range near Sutherlin.
The watershed, privately owned by Roseburg Forest Products, runs
along the north and south forks of Hinkle Creek, which join to create
Calapooya Creek, a tributary of the Umpqua River. The site was last
logged around 1950.
Scientists already are tracking fish movement with implanted
microchips and creeks wired with electronic sensors to determine how
much shade and fallen trees that species such as cutthroat trout need
Researchers say the data will help improve understanding of
hydrology, water quality, fisheries, other aquatic animals and
habitat characteristics before timber harvesting begins.
The Hinkle Creek watershed is similar to many others in Oregon,
and may help answer some questions about protection needed for
"headwater" streams during timber harvest, researchers say.
Some of the small streams in the study area have running water all
year but do not have enough volume to support a fishery. Still, they
can influence water quality downstream.
"Current Oregon forest practice regulations don't require buffers
on headwater streams during timber harvesting," said Steve Tesch,
professor and head of the Oregon State Department of Forest
He said the study is needed to help the state balance fish
protection with a timber industry that generates 85,000 jobs and more
than $12 billion annually to the state economy.
Timber harvest improvements over the past few decades include new
road construction techniques, a move toward logging young or small
diameter trees, and the use of harvesting equipment that has a much
smaller environmental footprint, said Arne Skaugset, an Oregon State
forest engineering professor and lead researcher in the watershed
"Forest management and timber harvesting in today's second growth
forest stands are quite different than in the past," Skaugset said.
If researchers are able to obtain funding, they plan to expand the
study to at least two other watersheds with different geology,
climate and other terrain characteristics.
Hal Salwasser, dean of the College of Forestry, said the stakes
for improving forest management are very high.
"It's imperative to protect water quality and fisheries, but we
must have a body of field science to know what is really needed,"
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