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The Plan for Sunflower Hill (Jan. 2005)

Please note: The restoration project described below has been postponed until next winter (2005-06). The warm weather and lack of snow this winter presented too great a risk for soil degradation if logging occurred in February as planned. Hopefully, next year will see colder temperatures and much more snow.

Following is a map and some text that have been put together by the KNPS based upon a draft plan that Tembec is creating in consultation with Bob Gray and the Nature Park Society. This is a very brief overview of the plan which is still in the process of being fine tuned.

The orange lines on the map above outline three units that will be logged to restore a more open forest and grassland (total area about 50 hectares). The lines of small red dots are the trails in the area, including Campground Trail, Jimmy Russell Road and Duck Pond Trail. The red dots don't exactly line up with the trails on the current map, and are likely more accurate.

Unit 1, which is the higher, steeper slopes of Sunflower Hill will be restored to open range with a tree stocking of about 50 stems per hectare, largely big old ponderosa pine and some Douglas fir. The average spacing of trees in this unit would be about 45 feet apart, but there will be variation in that average with some clumps of trees and others farther apart.

Units 2 and 3 are the lower area between Jimmy Russell Road and the highway and the area to the west of the creek. These areas will be restored to open forest with about 300 stems per hectare. This spacing of trees about 19 feet apart will again be variable and irregular to allow some clumps and randomness. These units have a fair amount of lodgepole pine and active pine beetle. The trees that will be left in these units will be western larch, ponderosa pine, some Douglas fir and spruce. As well all the deciduous trees will be left.

A protected wildlife tree area has been laid out on both sides of the creek and no logging will occur in that area. The logging will be done starting in February on frozen ground and maximum snowpack to keep soil disturbance to a minimum. A feller-buncher will be used to cut off the trees close to the ground. The trees will be randomly skidded by tracked skidders (on the steeper slopes) and rubber tired skidders (on the flatter ground) to one large landing (shown in red) to the south of Jimmy Russell Road and just west of Campground trail. At the landing the trees will have their tops and branches removed and be loaded on trucks that will drive up a new short spur road (also in red) to Jimmy Russell and then down to the St. Mary's road.

Trees from the west side of the creek will be skidded across a portable bridge that will be put in place and removed after the logging. Three skid trails, one short piece of haul road and one landing will all be re-contoured after the logging. Discussion is ongoing about what kind of seeds to plant on the disturbed areas and other measures that will need to be taken to control noxious weeds.

The logging operation should take about 3 weeks.

Bob Gray is already planning to go into the area this spring and slash and pile debris and smaller trees for burning next fall. The whole area including land to the east and west of the orange outlined area, would then be burned every decade or so, to prevent trees from reestablishing and to rejuvenate the rangeland.

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