As of Tuesday, April 10, 2018
ELK CITY In last week’s Free Press, a meeting was announced concerning the Red Moose Divide project meeting. Thought I’d give you a synopsis of the proposed project, and a warning of the possible issues facing Elk City.
The proposed USFS Red Moose Divide project meeting last Wednesday in Kooskia was very enlightening as to current forest health conditions, both across the entire Nez Perce/Clearwater as well as the specific project area that includes much of the area north and northwest of our township.
The use of the terms “epidemic proportions,” “60 percent mortality,” “heavy fuel loading” to describe spruce tree conditions should set off warning bells for those of us who live within the forest, as well as anybody else who has a vested interest in it.
In addition to the pine beetle we are already familiar with, the spruce beetles and fir beetles have been ramping up in numbers fast enough and large enough to challenge the pine beetle as the dominant forest health/vitality issue. And in their wake will be potential catastrophic fuel loading and brush succession that may change the forest landscape for generations to come.
That might sound “alarmist” (because it is) but coupled with the reality that some very recent large project fires on our forest “blew up” because initial attack efforts were inhibited and/or prevented because of excessively high and unsafe fuel loading, the stage is set for future fire seasons that will make the past 15 years pale.
It is my understanding that the general forest tree age is reaching maturity or over- maturity, with the resulting disease and insect susceptibility that comes with it. Because fire and logging have been the past predominant methods to attain diversity in species and stand age, resulting in a healthier forest, and that politics, policy and litigation have affected management practices to use those tools, we are now facing a forest behind the curve to address the big picture of reality – a dead and dying forest.
Our natural and normal weather pattern here in Elk City is from the northwest, the same area of the “epidemic” affecting our forest. Northwest is also the area of our municipal watershed. Unable to initial attack fire starts because of fuel loading, we face a bigger emergency than we ever have in the past…get the picture? Hello!
Dr. Secrest will be at the Elk City Medical Clinic, Monday, April 16. Call 208-962-3267 for an appointment.
The Friends of the Elk City Wagon Road are gearing up for this year’s events. Stay tuned for future information in this column. They have a very nice museum at the Grange Hall in Clearwater.
Meetings: American Legion on the 11th; VFW Post and Auxiliary on the 12th; Food Bank on the 17th.
Anniversaries: Jeff and Suzanne.
Birthdays: Margaret Shultz.