Monday January 16, 2023

Jefferson Public Radio

t’s not every day that you see a full-sized conifer, stripped of its limbs but with base and roots intact, fall from the sky.

But over the course of two days in 2020, pilots from Columbia Helicopters shuttled over 120 such trees to the upper reaches of Horse Creek and let them crash to the woods below.

Horse Creek is a tributary that feeds into the Klamath River about 150 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The log moving was about as exciting as creek restoration gets. As the helicopter descended, a member of the ground crew stood in the creek flashing a strobe, stepping out of the way just before prop wash set off a cyclone of dead leaves and bent alder trees backwards. As soon as the chopper dropped its heavy load, it was off to fetch another log.

“You had about a minute before the next one arrived,” recalls Toz Soto, fisheries biologist for the Karuk Tribe. “But at $8,000 to $10,000 an hour, every second counts.”

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