Southwest Idaho Wildfire Crisis Landscape Project

Southwest Idaho Wildfire Crisis Landscape Project Story Map - click this link for an in-depth look into the project, and please share this link with others that may be interested. Southwest Idaho Wildfire Crisis Landscape Project (arcgis.com)

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As authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Southwest Idaho Landscape Project is one of ten initial investment project of the Forest Service's Wildfire Crisis Strategy.

Learn more about the Wildfire Crisis Strategy in the Intermountain Region.

Community Readiness and Risk Mitigation Action Plan - Southwest Idaho National Priority Landscape:  

The SIL is adjacent to or includes 14 community cores identified to have elevated risk for transboundary wildfire exposure.  Community cores include Robie Creek, Boise City, Hidden Springs, Horseshoe Bend, Idaho City, Placerville, Garden Valley, Banks, Smiths Ferry, Cascade, Donnelly, Council, McCall, and New Meadows.  Download this action plan to learn more!

Southwest Idaho Landscape (SIL)

The SIL encompasses 1.7 million acres, including about 424,000 and 505,000 acres of the Boise and Payette National Forests, respectively. There are another 800,000 acres of other ownership including private, state and other federal lands. It is a broadscale effort to reduce the risk of catastrophic and undesirable wildfire while increasing the resiliency of the landscape to climate change and other stressors. The strategy is to treat about 230,000 acres of hazardous fuels or 25 percent of National Forest System (NFS) lands withing the landscape over the next 5-7 years. These treatments will reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, improve watershed health, sustain industry, protect recreation and improve forest resilience. The goal for Fiscal Year 2022 is to treat about 17,000 acres on National Forest System land with about 35,000 acres being treated annually in FY 2023 through 2028.

Learn more: Initial Landscape Investments

Partnerships and Collaboration - All Hands and All Lands

We cannot emphasize enough that this strategy represents an all-lands effort. The firesheds we have identified within the Southwest Idaho Landscape cover a patchwork of ownership including private and family-owned lands, Tribal ancestral lands, lands managed by the Department of the Interior, state lands under the Idaho Department of Lands and the Idaho Parks & Recreation, as well as National Forest systems lands.

As such, private and family-owned lands are an integral part of this strategy and will be critical elements in our landscape-scale planning. Within the Southwest Idaho Landscape, there are about 528,000 acres pf private land and about 929,000 acres of National Forest system lands.  

To learn about partnering with the Boise and Payette National Forests to proactively work on reducing fuel loading on public and private lands, visit Community Partnerships.

Treatments & Tools

How do fuels and forest health treatments reduce the risk and improve resilience?

Land managers can increase forest resilience and minimize wildfire impacts through forest management activities based on sound science. These activities are called hazardous fuels treatments and forest health treatments because their purpose is to reduce dangerous fuel levels and to restore forests to a more natural state that can sustain itself.

Treatments include Non-Commercial Thinning and Commercial Thinning that focus on removal of trees from overstocked forests. Prescribed burns are designed to mimic the historic and natural fire regime of forests through controlled, low-intensity burns to clear excess debris from the forest floor. Reforestation helps to restore stressed or damaged forest to a more natural and reproductive state. These tools when used in precise ways and in targeted areas within the forest will restore forest health and resilience.

See below for the four main tools the SIL will utilize.

  • Non-Commercial Thinning

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    Non-commercial thinning involves pruning branches, thinning ladder fuels, cutting small trees, and piling brush to be burned at a later date.

     

  • Prescribed Fire

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    Prescribed burning will reduce low level fuels and return the forest to its natural fire cycle.

  • Commercial Thinning

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    Commercial thinning will reduce fuels and help sustain local economies.

  • Reforestation

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    Reforesting with desirable, fire adapted species will build future forest health and resiliency.

Values to be Protected

Numerous communities: • Boise • Horseshoe Bend • Idaho City • Garden Valley • Donnelly • Cascade • Crouch • Council • McCall • Lake Fork • New Meadows

High value recreation areas • 3 ski resorts • High use mountain bike areas • Developed campgrounds • Snowmobile trailheads and trails

Important ecosystem services • Threatened steelhead • Chinook salmon • Bulltrout Other Infrastructure • Electronic sites • Bridges/Roads • Powerlines • Community Water Supplies

The Boise and Payette National Forests understand the connection that people have to public lands and as such, we are fully committed to every effort available to restore health and resiliency to the Forests. Our intent is to restore the Forest for today’s uses and for future generations. If you have questions regarding our effort within the Southwest Idaho Landscape, please reach out to us.

Boise National Forest: Michael Williamson, Public Affairs Officer, 208-373-4105, michael.williamson@usda.gov

Payette National Forest: Brian Harris, Public Affairs Officer, 208-634-6945, brian.d.harris@usda.gov