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Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Announce Spring Prescribed Fire Projects

United States Forest Service

KAMIAH — The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests has begun and will continue with several Spring prescribed burning projects across the forest to contribute to healthy, resilient ecosystems and wildfire protection for local communities.

Smaller-scale burn projects began in March, with larger projects beginning in April, and possibly extending into June, if weather and fuel conditions remain favorable.

“Earlier this year, the Forest Service announced a new strategy to address the nation’s wildfire crisis, where we will work with partners and cooperators to increase forest management actions and reduce wildfire risk,” said Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Supervisor Cheryl Probert. “Locally, we are increasing our fuels reduction work. We have received disaster relief funding to accomplish an additional 10,000 acres of fuels reduction this year in and adjacent to local priority firesheds, using a combination of prescribed fire and mechanical treatments. This funding will allow us to implement the projects that we have planned and designed to protect local communities and landscapes from high-severity wildfire.”

The objectives of these prescribed burn projects are to clean up natural and activity-generated fuels for the purpose of reforestation and wildlife habitat improvement.

“Fire plays an integral role in our environment and is a natural process that will occur, regardless of if it is a planned, prescribed burn or an unplanned wildfire,” said Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Fire Information Specialist Jim Wimer. “Prescribed burning is done to reduce hazardous fuel accumulations, selectively thin the understory in densely forested stands, stimulate growth in fire-tolerant plant species, prepare sites for hand tree planting, enhance forage for wildlife, and return fire’s natural role to the landscape. These projects contribute to stronger and more resilient ecosystems and can reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire behavior near local communities.”

Smoke from prescribed fires is significantly less than what would be expected from a mid-summer wildfire. If smoke concentrations approach minimum air quality standards, ignitions may be delayed until air quality improves. Residual smoke may be visible for up to two weeks following ignition, but most of the smoke from these spring prescribed fires will dissipate in just a few days.

Short-duration trail and area closures may be implemented for public and firefighter safety during prescribed burning activities. Closure information can be found online at https://bit.ly/NPC-Closures or by contacting your local ranger district.

The information below lists planned spring prescribed burning projects on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. Acres are planned to include all lands encompassed in the prescribed burn project areas; however, due to varying conditions, not every acre will burn or be ignited. If you have questions about any project, please call the point of contact listed for each district.

North Fork Ranger District

East Saddle Project – Located along Forest Service Road (FSR) #255 near Kelly Creek and near Cayuse Creek north of the airstrip. Multiple units may be burned for up to 528 total acres. This prescribed burning is intended to improve wildlife habitat, specifically elk winter range and spring calving areas.

North Fork Ponderosa Pine – Located along the North Fork of the Clearwater River from Washington Creek to Kelly Forks Work Center. Multiple units may be burned for up to 410 total acres. This prescribed burning is intended to improve/restore wildlife habitat and native/seral ponderosa pine stands

Ignitions could occur from April through June as weather and fuels conditions permit.

Moose Creek Ranger District 

Lowell WUI Timber Sale: Located near FSR #317, just east of Lowell. Planned ignitions include 40 machine piles and 130 smaller hand-piles*, and up to 122 acres of harvest-generated fuels across multiple units**. The objectives of these prescribed burns are to reduce the natural and harvest generated accumulated fuels near the community of Lowell and prepare sites for reforestation.

*Ignition of hand and machine piles could occur between 3/14/22 and 4/30/22. 

**Ignition of harvest-generated fuels could occur between 5/1/22 and 6/18/30 as weather windows permit.

Palouse Ranger District 

Up to 575 acres are planned across multiple units. Ignitions could occur between March and May 2022.

Strychnine Pines Timber Sale- Located five miles NE of Harvard, in the Palouse River drainage off FSR #768.

Uncle Morris Stewardship- Located four miles north of Elk River, Idaho in the Elk Creek drainage off FSR #1969.

 Upper Basin Stewardship- Located four miles north of Elk River, Idaho in the Elk Creek drainage off FSR #3805.

Johnson Creek Fuels- Located four miles north of Elk River, Idaho in the Elk Creek drainage off FSR #3805.

White Pine Mulch- Located four miles east of Sanders Idaho near West Dennis off FSR 377.

Greenhorn Stewardship- Located East of Potlatch.

Red River Ranger District

South Township Timber Sale- Located along the south boundary of the Elk City Township, near FSR #222 (Red River Road). Up to 413 acres are planned across multiple units. The objective of this project is to reduce logging slash and hazardous natural fuels that have accumulated on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land adjacent to private land. Aerial ignition could be utilized for this operation. 

Muddy Moose Timber Sale- Located west of the Elk City Township between Newsome Creek and Elk Summit Lookout along with FSR #307, #1808 (Elk City Wagon Road), and #471. Total of 75 acres across multiple units.

Salmon River Ranger District: 

South Fork Rx- The South Fork Rx will consist of burning multiple units from the Little Medicine and Earthquake Meadow projects to improve wildlife habitat. Burning will take place as conditions allow and may progress in elevation as higher elevation snow melts and lower elevations begin to green up with spring grasses. Approximately 5500 acres are planned for ignitions between now and the end of May. Project areas encompass most National Forest lands between Peasley Creek and Cougar Creek as well as Meadow Creek to Earthquake Basin. No closures are expected for these prescribed fires, but heavy fire traffic may occur during operations. Signs will be posted accordingly.