Kamiah, Idaho – Prescribed fire operations on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests are slowly winding down as June approaches. Since the beginning of May, firefighters from near and far have been working together to complete more than 6,200 acres of prescribed fire treatments across the Forest. Over 5,100 of these treated acres fall within the Lower Salmon Wildland Crisis Strategy (WCS) Landscape. WCS Landscapes have been designated as critical areas where hazardous fuels treatments are needed due to vegetation conditions and proximity to communities at risk. Prescribed fire removes hazardous fuels from the landscape, so that when a wildfire occurs, fire behavior will be moderated, and the risks of impacting communities are lower.
Demonstrating the Agency’s commitment to reducing wildfire risk, firefighting resources from as far away as Colorado and Wyoming have come to our region to help increase the workforce capacity. There is a limited window of opportunity for removing hazardous fuels in the spring in advance of the hotter and dryer summer months.
“This has also been a ‘community’ effort” states Kevin Pfister, Fire Staff Officer for the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. Pfister added, “The forest could not have succeeded at this level without the support and participation of local partners such as the Idaho Dept. of Lands (IDL) and Clearwater Potlatch Timber Protection Association (CPTPA), along with local fire contractors such as Big Cedar and Andrew’s Fire Service.”
Prescribed fire treatments are expected to continue this week as the weather and fuel conditions allow. The Salmon River, Red River, and Palouse Ranger Districts are all expected to continue with planned ignitions this week and possibly next week as well. Specialized, and out-of-area resources such as Engine Modules, Suppression Modules, Wildland Fire Modules, Smokejumpers, and Hotshot crews will continue to aid local agency and contract resources in the ongoing effort while opportunity lasts.
No ignitions operations are planned for the upcoming Memorial Day Holiday weekend.
As the transition from spring to summer happens over the next month in the river canyons of north-central Idaho, forest officials will be working closely with local partners and predictive services providers such as the National Weather Service to help make informed decisions on whether to continue with ignitions for any given project or operation. Smoke from wildfires in Canada are also taken into consideration when planning any ignitions as air quality is a primary concern.
For more information, or questions about any of the planned spring burn projects on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests please call your local ranger district office, or you can also call the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests’ Fire Information Line at 208-935-6134.
Photo Credits: USDA taken by Jim Wimer on the Windy Shingle prescribed fire project May 17th, 2023.