A DNR-managed inmate crew from Larch Correctional Camp was part of an effort to thin trees and do other restoration work at the DNR-managed Washougal Oaks Natural Area Preserve in southern Clark County last fall.
The project is restoring fish and wildlife habitat damaged by historic mining, timber harvesting and grazing practices that contributed to an invasion of conifers that over-topped the native Oregon white oak trees.
About 50 of the large conifir trees were removed by helicopter and placed in nearby creeks to create small ponds and other features that will improve fish habitat. The use of the helicopter meant no need to build a road into the sensitive area. Actually, loggers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had another method of getting trees out of such areas: dam up a creek, float logs into the waters behind the dam, and then intentionally burst the dam. The trees rocketed down the creek but the flooding caused by the now-prohibited practice also wiped out gravel bars, pools and other features fish depend on for habitat, food and spawning.
The project was funded by a Habitat Conservation and Restoration grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.