Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Idaho State News

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and Idaho Department of Fish and Game Work Together to Reduce Fire Risk and Improve Forest Ecosystems in the Palouse

KAMIAH — The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game have completed the second phase of a multi-year project designed to reduce fuels and restore forest conditions in the Palouse District.

The Little Boulder Project leverages the strength of both agencies to achieve shared stewardship priorities. Planning for the project started at the end of September and machinery worked in the area in the early fall and was completed in Mid-March. Depending on weather, the masticators worked throughout the winter, mostly running continuously.

Douglas Colaprete, the Assistant Fuels Management Officer for the Palouse District, explained, “The project consisted of 171 acres of mastication in 2 separate areas identified as fuels reduction units. They differ from timber harvest units in that we’re doing straight fuels reduction work without any harvest activities. The target is certain tree species such as Grand Fir, Douglas, Fir, and Lodgepole Pine which are inconsistent with historic and desired future conditions.”

About the project, Colaprete went on to say, “Mastication activities also target higher density fuel loadings and ladder fuels which reduce the risk of stand replacing wildfires. We aim for a 15-20 foot average final spacing between trees throughout the unit. The goal is to remove the hazardous fuels component so that if there is a fire, ladder fuels will not allow ground fire into the overstory where it can do considerable damage.”

This project was made possible under the Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) which authorizes the Forest to utilize the unique capacities of local, state, and Tribal governments to achieve shared stewardship objectives. This authority allows partners to perform forest and watershed restoration work, fuels reduction, heritage and wildlife surveys on the Forest that directly benefit local communities and small businesses. Colaprete explained that “Good Neighbor Authority projects allow us to streamline our processes so we can get more work done to provide long
term public benefits. Projects like this provide a holistic treatment of hazardous fuels on the forest. These mastication project units border future timber harvest units creating diverse and tailored fuels reduction treatments that will ultimately tie together throughout the whole project area.”

Buddie Carroll, Palouse District Ranger, said, “Good Neighbor Authority Projects have extended our ability to perform critical work on the 4-million-acre Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. They are key to both Tribal Co-stewardship and the Wildfire Crisis Strategy Landscape program which proactively reduces fire threats to North-Central Idaho communities, restores our natural environments, and provides to our local economies by creating jobs.”

Tara Ball, Regional Wildlife Biologist with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said, “Good neighbor authority has strengthened our partnership with the Forest and is improving our ability to achieve wildlife habitat objectives on a larger scale. There are many areas where fuels reduction, and forest health activities have strong overlap with improving wildlife habitat in the Clearwater Region. This project has created openings in the canopy that will regenerate nutritious understory forage for big game animals. And specific project design elements, such as
selectivity and seasonality of treatment, will help maintain valuable cover for various wildlife species. In working together, we can really refine treatments that will achieve multiple objectives.”

This is just one of the many projects the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and Idaho Fish and Game are currently working on together through the Good Neighbor Authority. The other projects are Red Siegel, End of the World, and Skyline Leuty where IDFG is assisting in Old Growth and Stand Exam Surveys, the Twenty-mile Vegetation Management where IDFG is assisting in NEPA analysis, Blacktail Fuels where IDFG has performed 44 acres of prescribed burn prep. In the works are the Selway Deciduous Fuels project where 400 acres of thinning are planned and 30 miles of access and noxious weed control are planned this spring, the Joint Lidar Project where IDFG, the forests, and the Idaho Department of Lands are working together on Flight and Data Processing.