The West Bend Project
Forest restoration projects in our back yard.
Some of the most beloved and visited places in the Deschutes National Forest are restoration priorities for the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project. One of those places is the West Bend Project, which began in 2010 and will continue mechanical (thinning and brush mowing) forest restoration work until 2025. After the initial entry treatments, prescribed fire will be used as a maintenance tool in the project area well into the future. The project encompasses 26,000 acres west of Bend, Oregon.
A combination of factors—widespread logging of the largest ponderosa pines that once blanketed this part of the forest, along with aggressive fire suppression—has left behind even-aged, densely packed trees that are uniformly vulnerable to fire, insects, disease, and other stresses brought by climate change, like drought.
In its current condition, this area also presents a serious wildfire threat to the City of Bend.
With input from the DCFP, the Deschutes National Forest is restoring 26,000 acres of our forest directly west of Bend, extending up to the boundary with the Bend Municipal Watershed Roadless Area. This includes the Phil’s Trail system, parts of the Deschutes River Trail system, the Virginia Meissner ski area, and more.
Phases of restoration work:
- Restore more natural forest conditions and processes.
- Ensure the forests at Bend’s western edge are more fire-adapted, more resilient, and safer for homeowners near the forest boundary.
- Protect the municipal watershed that supplies clean drinking water (Tumalo and Bridge Creeks).
- Provide businesses with restoration work and forest products to support local jobs and the local economy.
- Preserve long-term quality and access of high-use, year-round recreation areas and trails popular for road and mountain biking, river rafting, trail running, and other outdoor activities.
- Reduce the chance of outdoor events being cancelled due to long-term fire closures and unhealthy levels of smoke.
- Restore plant and wildlife diversity and improve thousands of acres of habitat for fire-dependent species.
The West Bend Project is one of 10 primary forest restoration project areas on national forestland within the larger 250,000+ acre Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project landscape. There are only 20 such demonstration sites nationwide, selected to receive Congressional funding through the federal Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act. The goals of the West Bend Project: restore forest ecosystems, reduce the potential of high-severity wildfire, and provide economic and social benefits to local communities.
On November 7, 2017, the West Bend Project was awarded the 2017 Forest Service’s Chief’s Honor Award, the highest award given by the Forest Service. The Chief’s Honor Award publicly recognizes outstanding accomplishments that contribute to the Forest Service’s strategic goals. The prestigious honor was given to the West Bend Project in the category of “Sustaining Our Nation’s Forests and Grasslands”. [Read the full Article]