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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Forest Teams Near Completion of Post-Fire Assessments - December 15, 2015

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests post-fire Interdisciplinary Teams are finalizing assessments and will soon provide proposed actions and opportunities for public comment on proposed actions.

Approximately 300 fires burned over 190,000 acres on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.  A large percentage of those burned acres are located in the Forests low-elevation front country where much of the Forests suitable timber ground is located.  Forest leaders recognized the tremendous workload created by this summer’s severe wild fires and redirected planned work on the Forest.  Actions were taken to retain as many of our seasonal employees as possible to quickly conduct post-fire assessments to determine vegetation burn severity, tree mortality, species composition, merchantability, and access feasibility. 

Three teams consisting of Resource Specialists (soil scientist, wildlife and fisheries biologists, silviculturists, foresters, archaeologists, recreation planners and a variety of others) have taken on the arduous task of identifying possible salvage areas within the fire perimeters.  Salvage areas have been considered using information gathered from on-the-ground assessments and a coarse and fine filter approach.  Areas within fire perimeters that have been identified and filtered out include Wilderness, Idaho Roadless Areas, Wild and Scenic areas, Research Natural Areas (existing and proposed), municipal watersheds, historical and cultural landmarks, Riparian Habitat Conservation Areas (RHCAs), and land slide prone areas. Next, our foresters went out with team members and assessed the feasibility/economic value of the remaining areas.

Salvage of burned timber is only one of many types of actions we are taking.   Additional proposed actions will include hazardous fuel reduction and planting to address maintenance and improvement of forest health and productivity. 

The location of burned areas affected recreationists, partners, permittees, and many whose income is based on access to National Forest System Lands.  Forest Staff welcome public comment on proposed actions.  Notice of proposed actions will be published in the Lewiston Morning Tribune, the paper of record, and include the location of proposed actions, purpose and need for proposed actions, and instructions to submit comments.