As of Tuesday, April 24, 2018
GRANGEVILLE The Idaho County Commission’s latest letter to Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests supervisor Cheryl Probert put the board’s weight behind Alternative 3, which Hungry Ridge Restoration Project documents indicate would “maximize potential 25 percent return to Idaho County.”
The Forest Service is working toward making a final decision on the project by January 2019.
According to the commission’s April 17 letter, the federal forest funding known as SRS (Secure Rural Schools) has “only been reauthorized through 2019 with an unknown future and continued declines in the amount received.”
Referring to a type of contract under which the county would stand to receive 25 percent of timber sale receipts, the board wrote: “It will be crucial that advertised sales be standard 2400-6 sales to provide potential county tax relief.”
“If stewardship or Good Neighbor sales are proposed, an alternative must be developed that displays the cause and effect of such action to Idaho County and the taxpayers,” the letter stated.
The board also highlighted road decommissioning, noxious weed, fire management and recreation issues, most notably, that “Idaho County sees the Hungry Ridge to Otter-Wing connection as the key link in [the GEM Trail] and we don’t understand why the off-road motorized trail from Elk City to the Salmon River was considered outside the scope of this project.”
According to project documentation, Alternative 3 would “use a combination of timber harvest, prescribed fire and reforestation to move toward the desired range of age, size and species mix in the project area…commercial timber harvest is proposed on 8,569 acres using intermediate (2,371 acres) and regeneration (6,198 acres) prescriptions.”
Alternative 3 – and the other alternatives – would also involve 10 acres of hand thinning around private property and a road use agreement for 1.8 miles of private road.
The Salmon River Ranger District presented project information to the commissioners earlier in the day April 17, noting that the project has been in process for years.
“We scoped it in 2014,” combined forests NEPA specialist and Hungry Ridge project team leader Jennie Fischer told the commission. “We took some time off to work on fire salvage in 2015 and deal with fires, and we’ve been working on Forest Plan Revision.”
Fischer and district ranger Jeff Shinn presented handouts that show what the different degrees of timber cutting would look like.
“This project really initiated around the private property that is within the Forest Service boundary and trying to protect some of that from either wildfires going onto that property or vice versa, fire going onto the Forest Service,” Fischer said. “There haven’t been any large wildfires in this area since 1889.”
Project documents are online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=43661.