Forest Supervisor issues Decision on South Pioneer Fire Salvage and Reforestation Environmental Assessment

Release Date: Jul 11, 2017  

Contact(s): Venetia Gempler 208-373-4105

Boise, Idaho, July 11, 2017—Boise National Forest Supervisor Cecilia Seesholtz signed the Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the South Pioneer Fire Salvage and Reforestation Project July 10, 2017, selecting Alternative B (Proposed Action) with modifications. Modifications made in the Decision Notice were in response to a changed condition caused by high spring flows and runoff in June that resulted in damage to NFS road 312 and loss of corresponding vehicle access north of the damaged road. Changes are discussed in detail in the Decision Notice and FONSI posted on the project website:


Implementing Alternative B, as modified in the July 10, 2017, Decision Notice/FONSI, will:

  • Reduce hazard trees along roads and trails on about 7847 acres through a combination of treatments including salvage and fell and leave

  • Salvage additional dead trees on 3,971 acres

  • Decommission 4.4 miles of unauthorized routes causing resource damage

  • Re-establish forested conditions by planting trees on 12,571 acres, naturally regenerating 4,703 acres

  • Restore whitebark pine on 294 acres

  • Restore riparian vegetation on 37 acres


“We know that when we engage our stakeholders throughout the planning phase of a project, we make better decisions,” said Brant Petersen, Idaho City District Ranger. “We regularly met with our local collaborative group, the Boise Forest Coalition, tribal and timber industry representatives; County commissioners; state agencies and other interested stakeholders. A 30-day comment period on the Environmental Assessment was included in the extensive public involvement efforts implemented from October 2016 through June 2017. These efforts helped inform the development of the Proposed Action and understand the effects of implementing actions included in the decision.”


District Rangers from both the Idaho City and Lowman Ranger Districts hosted field trips with a wide range of people to discuss the proposed action and the Forest’s intent to request an Emergency Situation Determination (ESD). During the analysis process for Environmental Assessment preparation, Forest representatives met formally and informally with groups to discuss the project when requested and participated in public forums to share presentations about the Project. “We truly appreciate the hard work and thoughtful collaboration our partners put into helping us developing this project,” said Petersen.


An Emergency Situation Determination is defined at 36 CFR 218.21(b) as: A situation on National Forest System (NFS) lands for which immediate implementation of a decision is necessary to achieve one or more of the following: 

1)  Relief from hazards threatening human health and safety

2)  Mitigation of threats to natural resources on NFS or adjacent lands

3)  Avoiding a loss of commodity value sufficient to jeopardize the agency's ability to accomplish project objectives directly related to resource protection or restoration.


Authority to authorize an ESD rests solely with the Chief and Associate Chief of the Forest Service. Current regulations at 36 CFR 218.21(d) identify that when an emergency situation exists with respect to all or part of a proposed project, the proposed action shall not be subject to the predecisional review (objection) process and may be implemented immediately following notification of the decision. 


"Throughout the planning process, we discussed with stakeholders the timing of hazard tree removal and salvage harvest and how critical it is to achieving the purpose and need for the South Pioneer Project, “ said Cecilia Seesholtz, Forest Supervisor of the Boise National Forest. “The combination of my Decision and approval of the ESD by the Chief of the Forest Service May 31, 2017, allows immediate implementation.”


“Doing the work immediately this field season recovers the greatest wood product value from hazard and dead trees salvaged before deterioration occurs. It is essential to recover this value so we can accomplish project objectives for hazard tree treatments; watershed improvements; and forest restoration, including reforestation.”


“The South Pioneer Project is known for its high concentration recreation use year-round,” said Seesholtz. “Operations will reduce risks and improve public access to the yurts, operated by Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, multiple motorized and non-motorized winter and summer trails and trailheads and popular campgrounds along Idaho State Highway 21.”


With the ESD approval, the Forest is moving forward with project implementation, including the award of hazard and dead tree salvage sale contracts, following issuance of the South Pioneer Project Decision Notice/FONSI signed July 10, 2017, and notifying stakeholders of the decision through this news release and other venues.


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