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Helicopter-Aided Logging Project Expected to Cause Traffic Delays

KAMIAH – Helicopter-aided logging will be taking place on 330 acres of Forest Service-managed land within the Wildfire Crisis Strategy Landscape. The Black Helicopters Project is being implemented through an Integrated Resource Service Contract (IRSC) with R&R Connor Aviation.

Motorists and travelers along State Highway 14 should be prepared for brief traffic delays near the helicopter service site near the highway. A traffic light may be established and utilized to shuttle traffic through the helicopter service area when work starts around the 10th of July.

“Helicopters are a great tool for removing dead and dying trees in areas where building roads is not desirable or possible” stated Cheryl Probert, Supervisor for the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.

“Using this tool to reduce fuels along the forest boundary will allow us to use prescribed fire on about 15,000 adjacent acres in critical fireshed” added Probert.

Accelerated fuels reduction projects under the Wildfire Crisis Strategy aim to improve forest resiliency and reduce risk to communities. Western forests are fire-dependent, meaning that these forests were historically sustained rather than destroyed by fires that burned under moderate weather and fuel conditions. The long-term consequences of attempting to suppress these natural fires have allowed dead fuel to accumulate and forests to become very dense across millions of acres – leading to conditions fostering very large intense fires.

Direct wildfire suppression efforts have proven mostly ineffective against wildfires once they become large. The only means to avoid such fires emerging is to pre-emptively manage the land using a variety of scientifically proven mechanical treatments along with fire itself to reduce/remove these volatile fuel accumulations. Reducing available fuels through prescribed burning will help to moderate the behavior of new wildfire starts and provide safer opportunities for our wildland firefighters to suppress them.

Roadside brushing and culvert replacement work also continues in conjunction with this service contract and project area. Roadside brushing is being accomplished along Forest Service Roads (FSR) #244 and #451 approximately 9 miles east of Grangeville, Idaho. The next step of culvert replacement will begin soon with possible delays of up to 4 hours at time when each one is replaced. There are no road or area closures in effect for this project, but the public is asked to please avoid the project sites or be prepared for long-term delays.

The road brushing and culvert replacement project is being accomplished by Flash Excavation of Harpster, Idaho. Road improvements such as brushing and culvert replacement not only help to facilitate the removal of sawlogs and biomass in the short term, but also help to maintain access for firefighters and provide more firefighting options in areas near private property.

These projects will help to reduce the risk of wildfire impacts to the communities of Grangeville, Harpster, Stites, Clearwater and dispersed residences along the South Fork Clearwater River.