A Forest Service project that could help harden the Orogrande community against wildfire is tied up in court and Idaho’s executive branch is stepping in.
Gov. Butch Otter has moved to intervene as a defendant in a lawsuit Friends of the Clearwater filed late last year.
Citing the project’s potential to “reduce available fuels…reduce the threat of wildfire and protect the community of Orogrande” by working 3,500 acres – including some in the West Fork Crooked River Roadless Area – the Governor’s Roadless Commission recently touted its support for Otter’s move.
The Clearwater Basin Collaborative has also recently held out praise for the project, and noted that the Idaho Roadless Rule of 2009 “specifically permits the removal of timber to reduce hazardous fuels within community protection zones if large trees are generally retained.”
Two CBC members are also members of the Governor’s Roadless Commission, and they released a joint statement.
“The Orogrande Community Protection Project is a perfect example of how the Idaho Roadless Rule specifically integrates local management concerns – in this case fire protection around the community of Orogrande – with the national objective for protecting roadless area values and characteristics,” CBC co-chairs Alex Irby and Dale Harris wrote. “It is our belief the management actions approved by [Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests supervisor Cheryl] Probert create a much-needed fuel break for the community and access road while addressing environmental concerns expressed by those who worked with the forest as the project was developed. We are very pleased the forest’s good work is being defended by the State of Idaho.”
The Free Press published a full report on the lawsuit on Jan. 11.