The West Bend area, directly west of the city of Bend, is:
More than 25,000 acres that are dominated by historically ponderosa pine forest.
Most of the area was owned by the Shevlin-Hixon company and following all the logging in the 1920-1930’s after the forest was depleted of sellable lumber, was traded to the Forest Service to avoid paying land taxes.
Since then, the West Bend area has experienced little fire, allowing every seed that hits the ground to grow, creating a higher density of trees than the forest can sustain for being in the high desert.
Ponderosa Pine Landscape recommendations:
In 2010, the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project (DCFP) created Ponderosa Pine landscape (view PDF) recommendations, which coincided with the development of the planning of the West Bend restoration project.
The landscape recommendations were developed through exhaustive research of science articles, land studies, and presentations of the historical condition of the forest and its processes by many members of the DCFP.
Once complete, the recommendations were given to the Deschutes National Forest Service to help inform the Forest Service on what steps to take to try to bring the current forest to have similar composition, structure, and function as the historical forest, which is the goal for a healthier forest.
The fire adapted Ponderosa pine forest in the West Bend area was found to have historically; fewer trees, ponderosa pine dominated overstory (the top foliage from multiple trees that combine to create an overhang or canopy under which people can walk or sit.), grass dominated understory (a layer of vegetation beneath the main canopy of a forest.) and frequent low severity fires. To move the landscape towards the desired future condition, the Collaborative and Forest service focused on a few main planning approaches:
Areas along the Deschutes River were mostly treated in winter months.
Strategic closures of areas for bike & hiking trails coordinated with recreation groups and trying to not impact all trails from any one trailhead at the same time.
Burning operations would not affect numerous trails at the same time.
Kiosk information on operations was posted at trailheads and made available online through recreation websites.
At the time of planning:
There were more than 140 miles of trails in the West Best area.
Restoration plans started in 2010, close to when Congress passed the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act. The Deschutes National Forest was approved for funding from this Act and the Deschutes Collaborative was then formed.