USFS plan approved to treat 166 acres near Lowell

— A U.S. Forest Service decision made this month clears the way for hazardous fuels reduction near Lowell.

Announced last week, the Lowell WUI (Wildland Urban Interface) project will treat 166 acres on the Lochsa/Powell and Moose Creek ranger districts in the Community Protections Zone of Lowell. Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Supervisor Cheryl Probert approved a plan that is also designed to improve forest health.

Lowell residents and private property are surrounded by dense forest where insect and disease-killed trees have created heavy fuel loads that can lead to uncontrollable fire behavior. Lowell is a Federal Register listed “community at risk.”

The Lowell community has been plagued by fire in recent years. The Andy’s Hump fire is currently burning about three miles away; and residents were evacuated in 2014 during the Johnson Bar fire and again in 2015 for the Slide and Wash fires while firefighters struggled to contain flames in heavy, dry fuels.

Nearby, in 2015, firefighters used units created in the Interface Fuels projects to successfully defend the neighboring community of Syringa from the Woodrat fire.

“We learned a great deal from the erratic fire behavior on the Johnson Bar, Slide and Wash fires, and from the successes we experienced with the Woodrat fire,” said Probert. “I’m happy to approve this important plan to protect Lowell that addresses hazardous fuels in the short term and reduces future tree mortality from root disease and insects over the long term.”

A series of public meetings were held to collaborate on the project with the local community and other stakeholders. According to Probert, local community members expressed interest from the beginning and have been supportive of the project.

Information on the Lowell WUI project can be found at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=44773

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