McLellan Conservation Area was acquired in 1996 with Conservation Futures funding. A significant portion of the property was impacted and burned in Firestorm '91. As a result of that fire, Ponderosa pine successfully re-colonized the burn areas - too successfully. The extreme density of trees creates competition for limited resources. As a result, 30 year old trees are less than 1/4 of the height they should be and are much more vulnerable to disease and insects such a pine bark beetle. A forest management plan was developed to help guide Spokane County's efforts to improve the forest's health while also enhancing wildlife habitat and reducing the risk of catastrophic fire.
While Phase 1 was a pre-commercial project (non-revenue generating), Phase 2 is a "commercial" thinning project, meaning that some revenue will be generated because some of the harvested trees have some commercial value. As of May 1, 2019, all trees in Phase 2 that are to be retained (not cut) are marked with orange paint. The project should generate enough revenue to make this forest health enhancement effort cost-neutral.
Project Timeline: Phase 1 (63 acres) November 2018 - mid-February 2019 - Completed. Phase 2 (240 acres) August 2019 - November 2019.
Funding: Phase 1 - McLellan Endowment Fund, Conservation Futures M&O, Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Phase 2 - McLellan Endowment, Conservation Futures M&O and revenue generated by the thinning project.