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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Road, Recreation and Administrative Site Maintenance Project Decision Signed

Kamiah, Idaho (August 18, 2016) – A decision was made on a project to maintain critical forest infrastructure, including roads, administrative sites and recreation sites impacted by the 2015 wildfires one year ago.  The Road, Recreation and Administrative Site Maintenance Project will maintain 133 miles of roads and 9 administrative and recreation sites impacted by the fires including mitigation of hazard trees that pose a risk to the life and safety of Forest users and employees.  Forest Supervisor Cheryl Probert states: “I have selected to take action to conduct maintenance, including hazard tree removal along many of the National Forest System roads, recreation sites and administrative sites burned over in the 2015 fires. This action is necessary to fulfill my responsibility of taking actions that contribute to the safety of Forest employees, visitors, and users, to the extent practicable.” 

The decision provides for dropping and leaving hazard trees along 87 miles of National Forest System roads. Along 46 miles of road, hazard trees would be removed through commercial timber sales, potentially yielding an estimated 7.5 million board feet of sawtimber.  2015 fire areas with impacted infrastructure include the Teepee Springs, Wash, Woodrat, Baldy, Boulder, Deadwood, Fourbit, Jay Point, Lost Hat, Snowy Summit, Musselshell, Pete Forks and Walde-Mystery Fires among others on the Salmon River, Red River, Moose Creek, North Fork, and Lochsa/Powell Ranger Districts.

An Environmental Assessment was prepared and a Finding of No Significant Impacts and Decision Notice were signed on August 17, 2016.  The purpose of this project is to provide safe and unimpeded access along and near National Forest System roads, administrative facilities and recreation sites. The project is needed to maintain the routes, administrative facilities, and trailheads which were damaged by wildland fire during the 2015 fire season. 

The Decision was modified from the Proposed Action and Scoping Notices released to the public in March 2016 and December 2015 respectively.  The proposed action was modified in the decision as a response to the public concerns regarding removal of timber in Idaho Roadless Areas, removal of timber along administratively closed roads, removal adjacent to Wild and Scenic River Corridors, and the sedimentation concern specifically on the Tepee Springs Fire and the Wash Fire.  Public input has helped shaped the project from conception through the decision, including the change from a Categorical Exclusion project to an Environmental Assessment analysis.  Three alternatives proposed by the public were incorporated in their entirety into this decision and one other alternative proposed was incorporated in part.

Due to the emergent nature of the project, the Chief of the Forest Service granted an Emergency Situation Determination on May 13, 2016 for the project that forgoes the pre-decisional objection process and allows for immediate implementation.  It is estimate that implementation of the road maintenance and drop and leave portions of the project will begin immediately, with the first timber sales scheduled to be advertised by the end of August. 

For more information on the Road, Administrative and Recreation Site Maintenance Project Decision, Emergency Situation Determination or Environmental Assessment please visit: http://prdp2fs.ess.usda.gov/project/?project=48213 or contact Zach Peterson, Forest Planner, at 208-935-4239 or zacharyapeterson@fs.fed.us