The U.S. Forest Service approved an 80,000-acre project to restore Ponderosa pines and improve wildlife habitat on the Payette National Forest.
Forest Supervisor Keith Lannom signed the Record of Decision for the Lost Creek – Boulder Creek Landscape Restoration project. It’s the second of five landscape level forest restoration projects under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, where loggers, conservationists sportsmen and others work together on the plan.
“The key ingredient in development of these restoration projects is the collaborative efforts of the Payette Forest Coalition,” said Lannom. “The Coalition represents groups that in the past didn’t see eye to eye on Forest Service activities.”
The project includes timber harvest and thinnings, prescribed fire, road decommissioning, road maintenance, trail maintenance, trailhead parking expansion, decommissioning unsustainable recreation facilities, creating sustainable dispersed camping sites, installing vault toilets, designating twelve miles of off-road vehicle routes, and culvert replacement.
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“This project truly has all the elements of effective forest management, and we look forward to starting and completing this effort to restore forest health,” said Lannom. The projects come in an area with some of the highest unemployment in Idaho. Already timber sales that have come out of the collaborative process have prompted the Evergreen Mill in Tamarack near New Meadows to add an second shift.
The sales also have raised $6 million for restoration work and attracted another $2.6 million from the Forest Service for road work.
“The project may take up to ten years to be fully implemented,” said Kim Pierson, New Meadows District Ranger. “But as these activities are completed the forest will become more resistant to catastrophic wildfire and pest epidemics, fish and wildlife habitat will be improved, recreation and camping experiences will be enhanced, and the open road system will be in better condition.”