The Panhandle Forest Collaborative (PFC) recently filed an “administrative objection” to the proposed Honey Badger Project located near Hayden Lake. While the PFC is generally supportive of the project, the group is concerned that the U.S. Forest Service did not adequately address questions regarding the potential effects of the proposed project on water quality, fish, and wildlife.

The PFC is a group of local people representing the timber industry, conservation groups, recreationists, government officials, and citizens-at-large that worked with Idaho Panhandle National Forest officials to help plan the project. The Idaho Conservation League is an active member of the PFC.

The Honey Badger Project is the largest project ever to be undertaken in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. Project objectives include reducing the threat of wildfire to nearby residents, improving recreational opportunities, and providing logs for local sawmills. The project’s scope involves 50 miles of road construction, 25 miles of new recreational trails, and more than 12,000 acres of logging.

The Forest Service’s environmental assessment of the project did not fully describe potential changes in sediment levels in streams and how sediment could impact water quality and fish. The assessment also does not provide estimates of the amount of wildlife habitat that would be affected as a result of new road construction and logging.

The objections process is an opportunity for the PFC to work with the Forest Service to address these concerns. A proper evaluation that shows no adverse environmental impact is key to the successful approval and implementation of the project.