Since the onslaught of wildfires, particularly over the last decade here on the Colville Reservation, many Colville Tribal Members have contacted the Forestry Department about being updated on our efforts to replant forested areas severely impacted by wildfires.
Here is an update of Forestry’s accomplishments for Spring 2022 planting.
There are two main categories of planting: (1) Green Sale Planting (2) “Salvage” Planting.
Green sale planting consists of planting within treatment blocks of scheduled Timber Sales. The blocks within a green sale that usually require planting are blocks that insect and/or disease issues are very prevalent. A majority of the overstory trees must be removed in these blocks due to these issues. We then plant healthy, site-specific seedlings into this sanitized stand to help it recuperate more quickly.
*Graph showing Green Sale Accomplishments for three CCT Forestry Districts
Salvage Planting falls under the category of planting into areas severely impacted by wildfire. Even though it is called “salvage planting” the block may or my not have been salvage logged prior to planting. If an area was salvage logged, it is more likely to be planted though because it is safer for the planting operations to take place with many of the overhead hazards removed. The act of salvage logging also greatly helps to clear away a lot of slash and debris, opening more of the soil surface for planting.
Due to the massive acres needed to be planted, a priority matrix of possible stands that need planted is developed. Individually Owned Indian Allotments are always our first priority to be planted. These are followed by salvaged areas, and areas highly likely to not recover on their own to a forested state. Lastly, stand attributes such as soil type, slope, topography and species composition are analyzed to make the most of putting our limited number of seedlings in the highest productive areas.
*Graph showing Salvage Sale Accomplishments for three CCT Forestry Districts
I feel this article would not be complete without a shout out to our local Colville Tribal Greenhouse. We would not have a whole lot to report without the tireless efforts of the folks at the Greenhouse. They plant, grow, and pack out many of these seedlings listed above. The logistical needs of organizing and ordering millions of seedlings followed by the grit and determination by the understaffed list of employees hustling all day is noteworthy.
It seems our work is never done. OND Forestry planning a fall plant in the Corkscrew and Cameron Lake area this fall of about 300,000 seedlings due to the affects of the Cold Springs Fire of 2021. I am not sure if the other two Districts are planning a fall plat as well. We have several planting seasons ahead of us in the Chuweah, Whitmore and Summit Trail Fires that occurred last summer. It gets overwhelming if you try and think too far out. We just try to take it one piece at a time. The wet, cool spring we had this year was a welcomed change. It should help with seedling survival and maybe we can make it through one summer not rocked by wildfires. I will continue to provide updates as these efforts continue.
Shay Logue, Lead Silviculturist - OND Forestry