FOREST PARTNERS COMPLETE WILLIAMS FARM BILL PROJECT

Contact(s): Amy Baumer


The Salmon-Challis National Forest (the Forest), Lemhi Forest Restoration Group (LFRG), and other partners have recently completed a collaborative project proposal to treat timber stands impacted by insects and disease and to reduce hazardous fuels along the Williams Creek Road.  The Forest, LFRG, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho Conservation League, grazing permittees, and others have been cooperatively developing this project for two years, with a Decision Notice signed by North Fork District Ranger Ken Gebhardt on February 3, 2020.  Gebhardt said the purpose of the project is to improve forest health and restore resiliency to timber stands that have been damaged by insects and disease within the 9,321 acre project area.  “This project is part of a larger strategic plan to help protect the Salmon Municipal Watershed from future wildfires,” Gebhardt said, “commercial timber sales, post and pole sales, and prescribed fire activities may begin as early as late 2020.”  Gebhardt also anticipates public firewood and post and pole gathering opportunities will be available through personal use permits in the future. 

The Williams Farm Bill Project, along with the Phelan Sharkey Farm Bill, the Salmon Municipal Watershed project, and the upcoming Stormy Peak Farm Bill projects all adjoin the Jessie Creek and Pollard Creek watersheds that provide Salmon’s municipal drinking water.  These projects focus on reducing the risk of an uncharacteristic wildfire entering the watershed as well as addressing forest health issues.  Other project benefits include improvement to wildlife habitats, reducing streambank erosion and sedimentation, and restoration of aspen stands. 

Salmon resident Barry Wynsma, a retired Forest Service forester, said that “as a private citizen who attended some of the meetings and field trip to the Williams Farm Bill project area, I appreciated the time provided by the Forest Service to conduct the field trip and to make a few recommended changes to some of the project area that should increase the amount of forest products to be removed and utilized while accomplishing fuels reduction and restoration treatments." 

The Lemhi Forest Restoration Group has over 40 members that participate in a consensus-based decision- making process to collaboratively provide ideas and input on landscape-scale restoration projects proposed by the Forest.  The LFRG has been very successful in addressing multiple forest restoration challenges including wildfire risk to communities, hazardous fuels reduction, firefighter safety, municipal watersheds, roadless area designations, old growth, road decommissioning, temporary road construction, threatened, endangered, and sensitive species, big game habitat, aspen, invasive species, travel management, and forest health.  

The Hughes Creek Hazardous Fuels Reduction project (2009) led to a new forest-wide protocol to validate old growth characteristics and enhance old growth stands.  This protocol has been adopted by the Forest for all vegetation management actions.  The Upper North Fork Healthy Forest Restoration Act Ecosystem Restoration Project (2014) was distinguished by its design to enhance aspen and whitebark stands, restore meadows, improve fish passage, and rehabilitate 66 miles of closed roads.  These projects created local jobs and positive impacts of restoration to local employment. 

More recently, projects have been designed to address timber stand health and wildlife habitat including the completed Williams Restoration and Grizzly Hill Whitebark Pine Restoration Projects, and the Sheep Creek Vegetation Project, which is under analysis.  Combined, these projects will total over 100,000 acres of treatment on the Forest.  Due to the success of the LFRG, none of the project decisions have been appealed, which is a testament to the value of collaborative work. 

To learn more about the LFRG visit:  https://www.lemhiforest.org.  For more information about the project visit:  https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=56052.  For questions, please call Louise Bruce, LFRG at 208-538-3606 or Ken Gebhardt, North Fork District Ranger at 208-865-2731.

####

‘USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender’





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/scnf/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD700794