Public comment is sought on a prescribed burning project, the Rapid River Ecosystem Maintenance Burn Project, located on the Payette and Nez Perce-Clearwater national forests. Comment deadline is Sept. 16.

According to a Forest Service release, the purpose of the project is to restore wildlife habitat and improve ecosystem health in the Rapid River watershed and portions of Lost Creek, Boulder Creek, and Squaw Creek sub watersheds. While much of the project area has received prescribed burning treatments and/or experienced wildfire, there is a need for a more holistic, landscape scale approach to the existing conditions and desired conditions, including looking across national forest boundary lines and private property.

Under the Wyden Authority, treatments on private property are possible and would be contingent upon approval from the private landowner and would also require entering into a formal agreement prior to implementation. Use of federal dollars on private property is made possible through the Wyden Authority.

The entire project area (including the Inventoried Roadless Area, and excluding the Pony Creek Research Natural Area) would be available to treatment over the next 25 years.  Approximately 500 to 10,000 acres of fire would be applied annually.  Prescribed burning operations would occur any time of year when conditions permit, typically in spring and fall.

A mosaic-like application of prescribed fire would re-introduce fire to approximately 75 percent of stands with historically high fire frequencies and lower severities, and 50 percent of stands with historically moderate to longer fire frequency and mixed to high severities.

Maintenance burning (burning after initial application of fire) would occur as necessary as often as every 5-15 years in fire regimes with historically frequent fire return intervals to maintain desired conditions. Approximately 500 to 10,000 acres of fire would be applied annually.

Project information is available online: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=56471.

Send written comments to Erin Phelps, New Meadows District Ranger, Payette National Forest, PO Box J, 3674 Highway 95, New Meadows, ID 83654; by fax at 208-347-0309; oral comments at the New Meadows Ranger District Office or by phone at 208-347-0300; or online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=56471.

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