Toppled trees to help poor, trails

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Department is putting three trees to good use after they toppled over at Lithia Park's upper duck pond on Monday afternoon.

A towering ponderosa pine is being sent in pieces to the Jackson County Fuel Committee so that the organization can help more low income people with wood-burning stoves heat their homes.

The log portions of a large cedar and a smaller cedar that fell will be used to stabilize soils on trails in and around Ashland. The cedar wood, prized because it doesn't rot as easily as other types of wood, also could be used for construction projects at places such as North Mountain Park, said Parks Central Division Manager Jeff McFarland.

Branches and smaller debris from all the trees will be chipped and used throughout the parks system, he said.

Cleanup on the smaller debris was expected to continue into today.

Parks officials aren't sure why the three trees fell on Monday afternoon. There was no sign of rot or disease in the trees, they said.

However, the underground root balls of the trees were on top of each other, so that when one fell, they all went down together.

No one was hurt.

The cedars fell across Winburn Way, the street that winds past Lithia Park, causing crews to close off the street at 3:45 p.m. on Monday, parks workers said.

Crews cleared away enough of the trees to reopen the road by 5 p.m., parks workers said.

Parks Commissioner JoAnne Eggers, who lives near Lithia Park, stopped to watch cleanup efforts on Monday and Tuesday.

"People were out here really working. It's pretty impressive," Eggers said.

While the cedars fell across Winburn Way, the ponderosa pine fell across the upper duck pond, which is significantly larger than Lithia Park's lower duck pond.

The ponderosa was so large that it spanned from one edge of the pond to the opposite shore.

On Tuesday, parks workers waded out into the thigh-high pond water and cut 25-foot-long sections of the ponderosa with chainsaws. Each chunk fell into the water, creating a massive splash. Workers then hauled the floating sections out with cables pulled by heavy equipment.

"It's a bit of a challenge to do a little pond logging," McFarland said.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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