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Collaborative fuels reduction efforts take shape across North Idaho

| September 24, 2021 12:32 PM

SANDPOINT – A collaborative effort to reduce wildfire danger on thousands of acres of public and private forest lands across north Idaho continues moving forward with a recent project decision from the US Forest Service.

Following one of the area’s busiest wildfire seasons, the Sandpoint Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests has issued a final decision for the Scattered Lands project that will treat around 7,000 acres of Forest Service lands in Bonner County. The project will be undertaken in coordination with fuels reduction work on neighboring State Endowment Lands and privately-owned forests, with a goal of reducing the overall threat of wildfire to a large swath of mixed ownership lands west of Lake Pend Oreille.

“The Scattered Lands project is a great example of what can be accomplished when we truly embrace a Shared Stewardship model and work side by side with our partners and stakeholders,” said District Ranger Jessie Berner. “I’m excited to be part of a project that will have such a significant impact on the landscape, making it more fire-resilient to protect our communities.”

This has been a collaborative effort between the US Forest Service, the Idaho Department of Lands, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bonner County, and many private citizens, including the Panhandle Forest Collaborative Group. The project takes an “all lands, all hands” approach to reducing fire danger, following a vision laid out in the 2018 Shared Stewardship agreement that Idaho Governor Brad Little signed with the US Department of Agriculture.

“With our forest health work on neighboring Idaho Endowment Land, the Scattered Lands project will be able to create a large area of forest improvements that will help reduce fire risk in the project area and beyond,” said IDL’s State Forester Craig Foss. “We want to thank landowners who are taking part in assistance programs for forest health treatments on their lands so we can truly make these projects continuous across property lines and jurisdictions.”

The project will focus on hazardous fuels mitigation, improving overall forest health, and safeguarding road access to communities, while increasing public outreach and education. Individual treatments will include slash piling, mastication, and prescribed burning, in addition to commercial tree removal and the replanting of native trees species that are more suited to the site and are less prone to damage from insects, disease and root rot. Cumulatively, these efforts will lead to a more fire-resilient landscape with wildfire prepared communities.

For more information about the Scattered Lands project, find the project documents online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=58631 or contact the Sandpoint Ranger District at (208) 263-5111.