Rising from the ashes to help in recovery

Finn Rock before
Finn Rock before (photo courtesy of McKenzie River Trust
Finn Rock after
Finn Rock after (photo courtesy of McKenzie River Trust

ODOT works with McKenzie River Trust to use burned logs for good

To some, it’s the ultimate in recycling: Take blackened timber from fire-ravaged land and put it right back into the damaged environment.

That’s what the McKenzie River Trust is doing with hundreds of scarred trees that succumbed to the September Holiday Farm Fire in Lane County and its aftermath. Many of those our crews identified as hazardous to motorists and removed are on their way to help create improved conditions for fish, wildlife and plants – and the people building back their McKenzie River valley lives.

Of course, recovery for the human habitat has only just begun, and recovery for the burned forests won’t be realized for generations. But the conservationists at McKenzie River Trust vowed to find some good from Oregon’s unprecedented wildfires.

“As one of the consequences of the fire, there are quite a few downed trees that are now available through ODOT or the State Parks or Lane County and others,” said Joe Moll, executive director, as he stood alongside the McKenzie River. “We’re able to use those trees really productively in really valuable habitat restoration projects.”

Volunteers will be placing damaged trees on hillsides to reduce erosion and help prevent landslides. They’ll locate them strategically in the river or in the McKenzie’s feeder streams to improve fish habitat and support flora and fauna recovery. Their efforts will help bring this recreational paradise back to life, for residents and visitors alike.

Re-using natural resources is part and parcel of the organization’s mission, so they will be ready to get to work when the weather cooperates. Right now, they’re stacking the logs on decks near the river. But they have big plans. 

“This habitat restoration project has been underway for three years,” said Moll. “We’ve been seeking several thousand trees to include in it. It’s a way of mimicking and restoring some of the natural processes that occurred here over the last few hundred years.”

Soon, visitors to this hauntingly beautiful area will see evidence of resiliency: both in the former residents as they rebuild their lives and in the natural habitat, as the forest recovers with a little help from friends like the McKenzie River Trust.