Agencies working on what to do with trees removed due to the Eag - KPTV - FOX 12

Agencies working on what to do with trees removed due to the Eagle Creek Fire

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COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE, OR (KPTV) -

Thousands of burned hazardous trees had to be cut down in the Columbia River Gorge in the wake of the Eagle Creek Fire, but where are they all going?

One of the major reasons that the eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 are still closed in Troutdale is because of tree removal work, and Thursday the Oregon Department of Transportation showed what was left of some of those trees, now in huge piles just off I-84 near Ainsworth State Park.

The trees that burned in the fire were at risk of falling onto the freeway, so ODOT officials said they had no choice but to take them out, but the good news is they’re not going very far.

Some will be mulched and used for erosion control in the gorge, and others will be put into streams and riverbanks to make for better fish habitat, both stabilizing the soil and protecting fish spawning areas.

Rachel Pawlitz with the U.S. Forest Service explained that all of those projects take time, however.

“We’ve had examples where we’ve gathered fish logs and we’ve held onto them and had them staged for up to a couple of years, so sometimes you have to wait for a restoration project to be at the right stage before you’re ready to place them in streams,” Pawlitz said.

There could be other uses for the trees as well. There are a lot of agencies involved to figure that out what to do with the timber because the trees burned on private, state and national forestland.

Even though the destinations and uses for all the trees may still be being finalized, officials said Thursday they will all be put to good use either in the gorge or in surrounding forests.

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