[Tweeters] Current Capitol Forest Challenges

Carol Riddell cariddellwa at gmail.com
Sat Jun 4 11:26:07 PDT 2016

I will expand just a bit on Ann Marie’s description of the current challenges in Capitol State Forest. Every time I have gone birding in the forest over the last several years, always entering by the Rock Candy Mountain entrance, there have been no commercial operations. Perhaps just good years with a long lull in logging operations as tree plantations were still growing and not yet ready for harvest. This year there are several large logging operations with expansive new clearcuts. At the old clearcut near Larch Mountain, that has been productive in the past for both Hermit Warbler and Townsend’s Solitaire, we could find neither species. (This is the location of the Rock Wren two years ago.) There is a cleanup operation on the new clearcut that suggested the active logging there was quite recent. That may have caused these two species to seek quieter parts of the forest. We continued up C-4000 and did find a male Hermit Warbler in the same area at which I found one last year.

It was going over Capitol Peak on C-4000 where we encountered road construction. Several double rigged dump trucks are spreading gravel for the one grader to smooth out. The gravel is building up the road such that pull-outs can not now be used. There was no indication that the road was closed for this operation and we continued until we met a dump truck going north as we were going south. My only option was to back up to the area where the grader was awaiting the load of gravel. It may have seemed like several miles in reverse but was actually a long half mile. The back-up camera in my Outback sure made that an easier task. We asked the grader operator why the road was not closed during its reconstruction. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “They didn’t want to close it.” I could only speculate that “they” referred to DNR, which operates the forest. We waited for the truck to dump its load of gravel and then convoyed behind it on its return to the south side of the forest.

As we descended the C-Line to the Porter Creek area we came upon another active logging operation and many logging trucks. They did not prevent us from finding our Grays Harbor County Gray Jays, and there were sufficient pullouts in this section of the C-Line, but those drivers stop for no one. They drive at dangerous speeds and with no regard to kicking up plenty of dust. Only one driver out of the 7 or 8 who passed us exercised backcountry courtesy and left no dust because he actually slowed down. We sent him many good thoughts.

We had a very doable outing but I have seen no commercial activity like this in the last five years or so. In the past I have birded the forest on weekdays to avoid the weekend ATV crowds. Perhaps right now it is best to bird early on weekend mornings to avoid the commercial activity.

Carol Riddell

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