A change in the weather has delayed the scheduled Ashland Forest Resiliency helicopter thinning project, officials announced Monday.
The operation to fly logs to landing sites in the Ashland Creek Watershed was set to start today, but is now on hold until conditions improve, AFR forest resource specialist Chris Chambers said in a news release.
"Columbia Helicopters is delaying the start of operations until better conditions prevail," the release said.
Roads and trails will remain closed due to tree-thinning operations and hazards along the road system. Closures include Granite Street above its intersection with Glenview Drive, Forest Service Road 2060 from its intersection with Granite Street to above the Horn Gap Area, and the No Candies Trail.
The Hitt Road Trail will be open from the city water tank to the gate at the large clearing where the trail transitions to road.
Once flying operations get under way, about 500 trucks will haul the logs down Granite Street in Ashland adjacent to Lithia Park, turn onto East Main Street, make a left at Second Street, and take Lithia Way out of town, Chambers said.
He said about 20 to 25 loads will be hauled on weekdays during the four- to five-week project.
Columbia Helicopters was awarded the contract to harvest roughly 1.8 million board feet of merchantable logs in the project area.
Columbia agreed to harvest the timber for about $1.2 million, and AFR will be responsible for hauling the roughly 500 loads of logs to Murphy Veneer in White City, Chambers said.
The amount AFR loses on the helicopter project will be made up by $6.5 million in federal stimulus money the resiliency project has received, he said.
The City of Ashland, the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy and the Lomakatsi Restoration Project have been working together on the 10-year AFR project to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires in 7,600 acres of the watershed and allow it to restore itself back to a natural state.
For more information, visit www.ashlandwatershed.org.