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County comment on Lolo Insect & Disease Project highlights 41 miles of road decommissioning

Idaho County Courthouse

Photo by David Rauzi
Idaho County Courthouse



— “Idaho County commends the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests for continuing efforts to address forest health issues,” the Idaho County Commission wrote in a comment letter approved last week regarding the Lolo Insect & Disease project.

The project proposal, which was subject of a March 7 public meeting in Kooskia, calls for timber harvest, soil rehabilitation, road improvements and other work in a 78,000-acre project area located approximately 16 miles northeast of Kamiah.

The county’s comment letter states support for alternative two, which is described in the project documentation online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=41466 as follows:

“Regeneration harvest, site preparation, and reforestation is proposed on 2,982 acres. No harvest would occur within the Lolo Trail National Historic Landmark corridor. Intermediate harvest is proposed on 746 acres and on an additional 86 acres within riparian habitat conservation areas (RHCAs) consisting of small non-fish bearing intermittent or perennial streams. Soil restoration is also proposed on approximately 55 acres in the intermediate harvest units. Associated road activities include 157 miles of road maintenance/reconditioning, 125 miles of road improvement, 0.74 miles of new system road construction, 3.1 miles of temporary roads on existing templates, 11.2 miles of new temporary road construction, and 2.6 miles of swing trails. Four new helicopter landings are also proposed … Other proposed activities include 41 miles of system road decommissioning, 4.1 miles of non-system road decommissioning, 5.4 miles of system road storage, and 300 feet of OHV trail construction.”

The board’s letter asked the Forest Service to address issues related to the treatment of forest in the National Historic Trail corridor.

“Our questions are, how do you plan to keep the spread of the insect and disease in check and prevent them from spreading to areas outside the trail corridor? Wouldn’t it be more cost-efficient to treat the corridor with a timber sale returning funds to the Forest Service? Is there a long-range plan to deal with forest health issues in the corridor?” the board wrote.

The board’s letter also highlighted road decommissioning.

“Decommissioning 41 miles of road would not be so concerning if we knew someone had taken the time to figure out how to move people through the forest for the next 100 years and had made an effort to estimate the demand for the transportation systems,” the board wrote. “However, as we don’t believe that was done, we cannot support the decommissioning of 41 miles of roads.”

The letter also stated concerns that the Idaho County Resource Plan was not used by the Forest Service and that county boundaries are not shown in project proposals where appropriate. The letter also requested “an alternative that maximizes return of the 25 percent fund to the counties.”



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