Letters from the West

Protecting lives and safety first priority of Pioneer Fire rehabilitation

Firefighters and U.S. Forest Service staff have already started clearing the trails and roads within the Pioneer Fire parameter on the Boise National Forest.

Idaho City District Ranger Brant Peterson led a tour Thursday of the 200,000-acre fire that is still burning in parts of the Boise National Forest.

With hundreds of thousands of standing dead trees spread across the landscape, Forest Service staff are seeking to make roads and trails as safe as they can with hunting season in full swing and winter recreation season around the corner. Heavy rains already have triggered have triggered landslides in the Clear Creek area northeast of Lowman and the agency is working to stabilize the steep areas where the fire scorched the soil and made it even more susceptible to erosion than usual.

Also Forest Service staff have identified 10,000 acres where salvage logging can be used to reduce hazards along roads and recover marketable timber before it rots.

The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation hope to get two of the six yurts ready to rent as early as Nov. 1, said Leo Hennessy, of the Department.

Long term the agency is beginning to look at a restoration plan and replanting to start over the forest in some areas where the hot fire burned thousands of acres of forest its scientists say won’t heal quickly.