Logging at English Point will revitalize forest

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LOREN BENOIT/Press Proposed work for the Forest Service managed English Point recreation area includes the planting of pine and tamarack, and the restoration of much of the historical forest to native trees that are diseased.

When the work is completed in a few years, the Forest Service-managed English Point recreational area will be a vibrant ecosystem of pine and tamarack.

The logging and burning that revitalized the landscape will just be a memory.

But it is the logging, burning and planting on the 358-acre site along Lancaster Road nine miles north of Coeur d’Alene that will be the topic of discussion as the Forest Service asks neighbors and area residents to weigh in on the plan.

“Many trees throughout the area are diseased, and mortality rates are very high, causing mature trees and forest conditions to decline throughout the recreation area,” said Dan Scaife, district ranger of the Coeur d’Alene River District that includes English Point.

When it was turned over to the Northern Pacific Railroad as a railroad grant in 1907, the point was primarily dotted with Ponderosa pine, tamarack and white pine in wetter areas.

Grazing, logging, fire suppression and land disturbances allowed other shade-tolerant species, including fir, hemlock, a variety of brush and nonnative grasses to take over in many places.

“These species are more prone to root disease and insects,” Scaife said.

The proposed work will restore much of the historical forest to native trees that are disease, bug and fire resistant, he said.

The public comment period on the plan that can be scrutinized by visiting the Idaho Panhandle National Forests website and clicking “Land and Resources Management,” and “projects,” will run until mid-July, although comments will be accepted until a decision is reached, Scaife said.

“We’d like them sooner than later,” he said.

If it passes muster, work could begin this fall in the recreation area on the north side of Hayden Lake, which has two hiking trails, including the 3.2-mile Yellow Loop Trail and 1.6-mile Red Loop Trail used by hikers, horseback riders and bicyclers.

Boundary marking for contracted logging, burning and brush removal could start this year and run through next summer when logging operations on the west side of the property — the Yellow Loop side — could begin. Slash would be burned in autumn and winter of 2020.

Under the plan, additional harvesting will be done in 2021 on the east side of the property — the Red Loop side — with slash and understory burning set for 2022. By the following year, planting and trail work — including the replacement of board walks and bridges — will be completed.

At least one of the trails will remain open while work is being done.

“This will be a multi-phase treatment to ensure at least one side of the English Point trail system remains open at a time,” Scaife said.

In all, about 109 acres will be logged commercially. Non-commercial tree removal, or removal of severely diseased trees, and the removal of undesirable species will occur on 30 acres.

Ladder fuel reduction, or the removal of flammable brush, is set for about 23 acres.

Last year. another project to reduce fire danger on some public and private lands included brush removal in parts of English Point.

Money from the sale of the timber at English Point will be used for reforestation and upgrades at the site, Scaife said.

English Point was conveyed to the Forest Service during World War II after the railroad sold it to Bunker Hill & Sullivan Mining and Concentrating Co., which in turn traded it to the federal government in a land exchange.

The Forest Service has managed the property since 1941, when the swath of land overlooking Hayden Lake received public domain status, meaning, from then on, it was treated as part of the forest reserve, according to the Forest Service.

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