The Oregon Department of Transportation is beginning a tree removal project along a 3-mile stretch of U.S. 30 between Astoria and Svensen that will improve safety and minimize closures due to falling trees during winter storms. While improving safety, the project also helps protect the environment by providing trees that can be used to address riparian enhancement and protection in some of the corridor's fish-bearing streams. Because the corridor encompasses 3 separate fish bearing streams, ODOT has worked closely with the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to enhance stream habitat.
The trees targeted for removal have created problems during recent winter storms by hanging over U.S. 30, a primary transportation link between Astoria and Portland.
"They fall and block the highway and shade it so that ice on the road doesn't thaw," said ODOT Forester Daniel Lepschat. "They also create dangerous obstacles to motorists and obstruct vision."
A timber contractor is removing a narrow strip of trees on both sides of U.S. 30 between the Svensen Junction (milepost 85.8) and just east of the John Day River (mile post 89.1). The trees are as small as one inch in diameter and a few are as large as 20-inches. Generally the trees range in size from six to 14 inches.
"Many trees that are felled in a riparian area will be left in the area for habitat enhancement," said Lepschat. "We will also replant two native specie trees for every tree larger than 11 inches cut in a riparian area.
The native specie trees planted will be the sturdy Western Red Cedar, while most of the trees being removed are Red Alder and smaller diameter Hemlock and Douglas fir trees.
The tree project will also comply with tree density rules affecting scenic highways
Safety project to have minimal impact on motorists
The project is expected to continue at least 45 days. One lane of travel within the corridor will remain open at all times; flaggers will be on scene to control traffic. Motorists can expect delays to last no longer than 15-20 minutes.
"The objective is to minimize highway hazards and closures due to trees coming down but still maintain the scenic beauty motorists expect. It's a delicate balance but it's one that we take seriously," said Dave Neys, ODOT's District Manager.