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The Bureau of Land Management plans to replace several failing culverts and chip-seal about 14 miles of roadway along the Quartzville Backcountry Scenic Byway in 2021 and 2022, Cascades Field Office Manager John Huston told Linn County Commissioners Tuesday morning.

Houston said the projects will require some short-term closures of the road that runs on the north side of Green Peter Reservoir northeast of Sweet Home.

“We’re also looking at closing some roadside campsites because they hang into the roadway,” he said. “We are also going to install jersey barriers in some areas to deflect errant vehicles from crashing into campsites.”

The rustic Yellowbottom and Old Miner’s Meadow campgrounds will remain open.

Houston said the Cascades Field Office has sold about 40 million board feet of timber, generating about $14.7 million in income and contributing to jobs in the North Santiam Canyon area. Three sales total about 16.5 million board feet of timber are planned in 2021.

Significant tree die-off in the Willamette Valley, including Fishermen’s Bend, has led to the formation of a study by staff from the Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station and Oregon State.

According to the BLM’s annual report, samples from dead trees were collected in 2018. Those samples will be analyzed to help predict future forest health issues on public lands and develop

New BLM Upper Willamette Field Office Manager Becca Brooke introduced herself to the commissioners and said she's been based in Springfield for about a year. She comes to the job from a similar post in Bakersfield, California.

The Upper Willamette district borders Linn County to the south and the Shotgun Creek area near Marcola is a popular recreation area for residents of both Linn and Lane counties.

Brooke said there are plans to close some off road vehicle trails while timber sales are conducted over the next couple years. But those trails will be maintained and put back into service.

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Commissioners John Lindsey and Will Tucker told the BLM representatives they have concerns about government agencies closing roads to the general public.

“If the government continues to block the public from public areas, they will lose public support,” Lindsey said. “I hate to see us go down that road.”

Tucker said gates and road closures create difficult situations because forest roads are interconnected and a closure can affect access to lands managed by other government agencies.

“So, if the BLM installs gates on a road, it can block access to state or O & C lands, “he said. “People need to be able to travel on the backroads and to see our forests being managed. They will appreciate it more.”

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Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.

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