Tuesday, March 30, 2010

BLM Spends Millions Fixin Up Camp-Grounds, Conservation Areas

I am sure the hunters and fishermen will appreciate (benefit frum) this more than anyone else.

DILLARD — After four hours of work Friday morning, truckers had hauled 550 tons of crushed rock out of Kent Creek Quarry.

“So that's a slow day,” said John Anderson, general manager of the Dillard quarry that's pumping out between 1,000 and 1,800 tons of rock a day right now.

During most winters, the quarry is not as busy and many of its employees are laid off.

However, Kent Creek Quarry got a chunk of the federal stimulus funds to fill up the local Bureau of Land Management's rock stockpiles around Douglas County.

Anderson said the contract, which amounts to almost $1 million for 100,000 tons of gravel, is a big boon for the local company. He said the BLM contract means jobs for about 20 people.

“Normally we wouldn't be moving things out the door till June, July,” he said. The quarry began work on the BLM contract in January this year and is halfway through the job.

Kent Creek is one of two local companies that snapped up the BLM rock projects, along with All Rock out of Canyonville. The work is part of a suite of four American Recovery and Reimbursement Act federal stimulus projects.

All four projects total $3.7 million, said Jake Winn, Roseburg BLM's restoration coordinator, who also is coordinating the ARRA projects.

“It's all going to improving infrastructure that's aging and deteriorating,” he said Monday. “They represent a backlog of work we have not been able to accomplish.”

In addition to the rock projects, the other ARRA projects through BLM include replacing a 35-year-old heating and air conditioning unit, replacing five outhouses at local campgrounds and day use areas and replacing five culverts outside Roseburg to restore habitat for coho salmon and other fish.

Those three jobs are expected to generate eight to 10 jobs, according to the Oregon and Washington BLM Web site that lists the region's 60 total projects, totaling $32.4 million.

In the Roseburg District, the rock and road project is the biggest at more than $2.2 million, with jobs for 20 to 30 people over the next year.

“So it's a good thing – this kept a lot of people employed this winter,” Bruce Sconce, BLM road maintenance supervisor, said.

BLM began looking into the ARRA projects last spring.

Sconce said the BLM staff sat down with the Douglas Forest Protective Association, timber companies and other partners to determine how to get the “most bang for the buck” on the district's 3,000 miles of mostly unpaved roads shared by many.

Sconce said the plan was to replenish 21 of 80 dwindling gravel stockpiles around the county with 153,400 tons of rock. The rock will be used on a third of the district's highest-use roads, for example around the Dead Man Creek and Rock Creek areas.

The stockpiles will be used to patch roadways as needed.

“We haven't put rock in those piles in the last few years,” he said. “It will probably take us three years to use, but it will be used.”

Cost to fill the stockpiles is more than $1.8 million.

Winn said during the winter months, many roads become so muddy and messy they begin to break down, which can prompt the BLM to close roads blocking access for private landowners, timber workers and recreational users.

“We have a large road system and we depend on that road system to access our lands, and our neighbors and private land owners and industrial timber companies depend on that, too,” he said.

Project specs called for high-quality rock, to maintain road structure and ensure water quality. Winn and Sconce said degrading roads that fall into waterways can be a big problem for fish.

The project also includes $400,000 to renovate roads at Kelly Creek, Gassey Creek and Big Tom Folley. Three companies, two from Douglas County and one from Medford, won the contracts for the road work.

For Kent Creek, the BLM contract represents about 60 percent of the quarry's business right now, compared with 15 to 20 percent in past years.

Bob Faubaush, a part owner at the Kent Creek operation, said the project has been a shot in the arm for the company and his employees.

“Yeah, it's been a good thing,” he said. “It's good that it got spread around with all the people working. Even the tire stores — those trucks gotta have tires.”

Expecting to use 80,000 gallons of fuel and require lots of vehicle and machinery maintenance, the dollars generated by their slice of the project will have an impact around the county Anderson and Faubaush said.

“The ripple effect is enormous,” Anderson said. “We feed a lot of people.”

• You can contact DD Bixby at 541-957-4211 or by e-mail at dbixby@nrtoday.com.


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