Just days after the topic first became public, city officials appear ready to allow logging on Tubbs Hill for the first time in 70 years.
City officials are eager to get the logging done before spring, when the public swarms to one of the area’s most scenic and revered lakeside haunts.
Conventional ground skidding may be used to bring some of the more than 1,000 downed and damaged trees to the fire access road that bisects the hill.
But it is clear that the loggers, pilots and industry representatives who hiked through the snarl of ice-storm casualties on Friday favor using helicopters to pull out most of the trees.
The helicopters will take the logs to a city parking lot. Trucks will take the trees from there to a mill.
It still is unclear how extensive the logging will be. Some people estimate there are 300,000 board feet down or diseased. Others put the figure at less than 100,000 board feet.
Friday’s tour sparked only one real point of dissent: Who will supervise the logging task. At a meeting earlier in the week, former state Sen. Art Manley, a local conservationist who rallied the city to purchase 135 acres on Tubbs Hill in the ‘70s, urged the city to oversee the harvest of Tubbs Hill’s damaged trees.
“When I hear ‘at-risk’ trees that bothers me,” Manley said. “That’s a very, very broad term.”
Stan Smith, of the Small Loggers Council, raised the issue again Friday, noting city forester Karen Hinson is married to an Intermountain Forest Industry Association lobbyist.
“That won’t be a problem,” replied Doug Eastwood, city parks director.
With big, wet snowflakes piling on their hats and coats, members of the tour group walked around the popular hill with city officials, looking for helicopter landing sites and discussing how many trees should come out. There are pockets with many, many downed trees. Two bridges on the foot trail have been damaged by the logs, most of them Douglas fir.
The field trip was arranged after a meeting earlier last week in which the Small Loggers Council questioned whether helicopter logging was the best option. The City Council will make the final decision on how the area is logged.
The decision could come as early as Tuesday.
Then “we’ll get in here as soon as possible,” Eastwood said. The job could be finished as early as mid-January, he said.
That includes piling and burning any tree limbs and branches the helicopters don’t haul off of the hill.
In addition to City Council approval, the Tubbs Hill Committee and the city will have to decide how many of the bug-infested Douglas fir will have be removed. The Tubbs Hill group wants the logging job to be done in a manner that will allow them to possibly replant white pine.
Smith, of the Small Loggers Council, also is urging the city to make sure it gets top dollar for the trees and that the job is done right. “The (loggers) council’s concern is the city will get nothing and the people will say ‘look what the loggers did,”’ Smith said.
He also wants the city to leave a small area with broken and blown-down trees alone, “just to show an unmanaged forest.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo