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Clear Creek restoration moves forward

— The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests have released a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Draft Record of Decision (ROD) that proposes a comprehensive program of restoration activities within the Clear Creek drainage, located in the Moose Creek Ranger District.

It is the first large-scale suite of restoration projects analyzed as part of the Selway-Middle Fork Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) strategy. The project is notable because it considers a larger area with more extensive restoration treatments than most Forest analyses.

The FEIS analyzes alternatives for restoring forest vegetation and improving watershed conditions within the nearly 44,000-acre Clear Creek analysis area. The proposed treatments are expected to improve long-term resilience of vegetation, reduce fuels, improve habitat for a variety of species including elk, and reduce sediment reaching Clear Creek, a tributary of the Middle Fork Clearwater River.

“We have identified the areas of highest risk. We know how to reduce those threats through landscape-scale treatment and active management. Now we just need to get the job done to benefit forest health, the environment and the citizens of Idaho,” Idaho Governor Butch Otter said.

“The Clear Creek project announcement today is the latest example of how Idahoans from many walks of life are working collaboratively to protect and increase jobs while simultaneously improving forest health," Sen. Mike Crapo said. "The U.S. Forest Service announcement of the Clear Creek project is projected to result in the harvest of 85 million board feet, while sustaining 2,133 jobs and improving our fish and wildlife habitat. This is a national model for how we build consensus on the management of our public lands.”

The FEIS was developed in collaboration with individuals and groups who expressed an interest in the area and its management. Upfront collaboration is expected to build understanding and support for the project.

Alex Irby, co-chair of the Clearwater Basin Collaborative, praised the Forest Service for its hard work and the resulting decision. “I am very pleased with the Forest Service’s efforts to work with all interests and develop an alternative that is good for the land and good for people,” Irby said. “This is a major step forward in meeting the intent of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program.”

The FEIS describes and analyzes three action alternatives that would improve vegetative and aquatic conditions within the drainage. It also analyzes a fourth mandatory “no action” alternative. The Draft ROD proposes to select Alternative C, this decision will accomplish the following over the next 5 to 10 years:

• 4,156 acres of variable retention regeneration harvest, site preparation, and reforestation to achieve long term ecological integrity objectives. Clumps of trees, snags, desirable legacy trees and down woody debris will be retained within regeneration harvest units to retain wildlife habitat and other ecological objectives.

• 331 acres of improvement harvest to protect stands of legacy trees--large, fire resistant ponderosa pine, western larch and Douglas-fir that are threatened by the risk of crown fires.

• 4,220 acres of commercial thinning to improve overall health and vigor of the resulting stand by favoring retention of the healthiest, largest and most fire resistant species.

• 1,793 acres of pre-commercial thinning to reduce crowding, improve forest health, and reduce fuels.

• 1,371 acres of prescribed fire to restore natural fire regimes, reduce fuels, and improve wildlife habitat

• 41 acres of grass restoration to benefit native wildlife species and reduce the spread of noxious weeds.

• 8.7 miles of temporary road construction on old road beds from historic logging that were left in a stable condition after use, but were not obliterated.

• 27.6 miles of new temporary road construction that will be decommissioned after use.

• 119.8 miles of National Forest System (NFS) road reconstruction to improve existing roads and reduce risk of sediment delivery to streams.

• 13.2 miles of NFS road decommissioning.

• Two site-specific Forest Plan amendments.

The FEIS and Draft ROD documents are posted here. A legal notice advertising the start of a 45-day objection period will be published in the Lewiston Tribune on February 11, 2015.


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