Here is a fresh update on starting phase two of the forest health thinning project from Forester David Cass and Matt Morrison, State Parks Area Park Manager.
The Western portion of Squilchuck State Park (with the exception of the mountain bike skills area) will remain closed to all public entry tentatively until July 1st 2019 and potentially longer while the contractor finishes mulching work.
All park property West of the main entrance road, the day use parking lot (with the exception of the mountain bike skills park) and the campground are closed to all entry.
All main trails and access points into this area will be partially fenced and signed “keep out, danger zone, violators will be prosecuted.”
We are asking all visitors for compliance for their own safety. Rangers will be making extra patrols and will be strictly enforcing the closure.
The logging portion of this project completed just after the New Year. Since then we have been waiting for the snow to melt and the ground to firm up a bit for the next phase of the project to begin. The next phase is mulching of the logging slash and small trees that the logging contractor did not take during the harvest. We have contracted with Timberland Excavation, LLC to complete this phase and they will start work this week, weather pending. The work will take two months to complete, so will likely end near June 30th. They will be using a medium sized excavator with a boom-mounted rotary mulching head to go back and forth across the treatment area grinding up the logging slash and many of the remaining small (sapling to flag pole size) trees. They will be following the blue markings for which trees to retain as well as a set of instructions on size, species, and spacing of trees to cut. Removing these small trees was not part of the logger’s responsibility because they were only removing what could be sold and they couldn’t get their equipment to every tree. Grinding up the slash and some of the shrubs in the treatment area will reduce fine fuel loads (the fuels that will ignite first in a fire) and hasten decomposition of the wood. It is an important step toward making an effective fuel break near the boundary and will ultimately make the area look nicer post-logging, and better prepare the ground for reseeding. They will also repair ruts and berms in the soil made by the logging contractor that couldn’t be repaired when the ground was frozen and snow-covered.
The treatment area is closed to public use and will be signed as such for the duration of the mulching contract. There are still hazards in the treatment area and the trails have not been repaired. Please stay out of the area and do your part to advise others to stay out. The mulching machine that is being used can throw debris long distances. If it is near your home you should stay indoors while it is working. The operator can aim the flow of chips away from homes and roads, but the unexpected stray piece of wood, dirt, or rock can happen. There will generally be two people working with the machine, one in the cab operating and one on the ground watching for hazards and giving direction to the operator. If you do wish to spectate, stay at least 250 feet back or in your home. Do not attempt to talk to or approach the contractor while the machine is running, wait for it to fully stop. We appreciate your compliance and assistance keeping the work area safe for everyone.
Here’s the big picture of the remaining work on the project. After the mulching phase the trails will be repaired and reopened. Later in the summer we will do weed control as needed. In the fall we will be reseeding and doing follow-up cleanup as well. In the late fall or early winter we will be burning small slash piles made in an area that was too steep for equipment to operate.