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Boise Basin Experimental Forest Project: Science and Management working together to restore dry mixed-conifer forests.

April, 2016 to April, 2020

Since 1994, uncharacteristic wildfires have burned close to 50 percent of the Boise National Forest, and in 2016, the Pioneer Wildfire burned approximately 190,000 acres. This adaptive management-science project provides an opportunity to evaluate ecological, social, and economic aspects associated with creating different forest conditions through mechanical and prescribed fire methods. 


The project will examine a range of conditions that represent low, medium, and high spatial diversity in vegetation structure and composition created by prescribed fire, commercial, and non-commercial vegetation treatments across 11,584 acres split between the Boise National Forest and the Boise Basin Experimental Forest (BBEF). Terrie Jain (RMRS) has developed treatment parameters using a robust experimental design. To accomplish the pre-treatment analysis, researchers will examine and develop marking guides in upland dry conifer forests and riparian conservation areas.

Key Findings

The goals of this partnership are to advance knowledge on landscape-level forest restoration in ponderosa pine forest types, practical riparian fuel treatments, and social and economic effects of different forest conditions. The project will evaluate:

  • Restoration alternatives for riparian conservations areas.
  • The feasibility of treatment implementation.
  • The ecological (riparian health, wildlife habitat, fire resilience), social (recreation use), and economical (recreation economy and ecosystem services) effectiveness.
  • Develop education and demonstration areas.
  • Conditions that advance safe fire suppression in a rural Wildland Urban Interface.


The long-term research and management goals for Boise Basin Experimental Forest and surrounding area are:

  • Create forest conditions to reduce the risk of stand-replacing wildfire and create forest conditions that would favor a mixed fire regime dominated by surface fire. 
  • Provide fire suppression opportunities in all three BBEF Units, particularly if Idaho City is threatened by wildfire, without compromising past, ongoing, or future research.
  • Produce varying levels of diversity in forest structures and conditions that will provide research opportunities today and into the future (decades to centuries).
  • Protect and maintain past, current, and future research.
  • Work in partnership with the National Forest System, Idaho City Ranger District, and Boise National Forest to enhance the research integrity of BBEF and produce relevant research results to inform management decisions.
  • Boise National Forest is using this project to develop the EADM process by 1) focusing on main potential effects, 2) using a contractor to conduct the effects analysis, and 3) have the specialists (Interdisciplinary Team members) streamline reports.
  • Project is to be installed by timber sale or stewardship contract in 2019 and 2020.

Project Contact: 

Principal Investigators:
Andrew Nelson - University of Idaho
Dennis Becker - University of Idaho
Keri Verling - University of Idaho
Kathleen Lee - University of Idaho
Seth Ex - Colorado State Univeristy
Brant Petersen - Idaho City Ranger District
John Wallace - Idaho City
John Riling - Boise National Forest
Mike Feiger - Idaho City

Research Staff:
Funding Contributors:
Region 4: BESMART Program
Rocky Mountain Research Station
Boise National Forest