The Nez Perce – Clearwater National Forests have long been a focus for the Idaho Conservation League. With over 1.4 million acres of pristine undeveloped roadless forests, these large expanses of connected wildlands provide habitat for threatened, endangered, and sensitive species. Rivers like the Lochsa, Selway, and North Fork Clearwater, along with tributaries like Kelly, Cayuse, Meadow, Fish and Hungery Creeks, flow clean and cold and are special to many Idahoans who treasure the opportunity to visit this pristine landscape.
That’s why we were concerned when the Forest Service proposed the Dead Laundry project.
ICL reviews and comments on hundreds of different projects each year through the environmental review process, emphasizing the need to restore degraded landscapes, improve water quality and wildlife habitat, and promote sustainable recreation. As we reviewed the specifics of this logging proposal in the North Fork Clearwater River and Kelly Creek watersheds we raised concerns and are grateful to the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests for working with us to resolve our concerns.
The Forest Service’s original proposal called for 2,057 acres of logging, 700 acres of mechanical hand thinning, 1,350 acres of prescribed burning, 30 miles of temporary road construction, and 12 miles of new permanent road construction.
ICL was concerned that the project would harm water quality and habitat for cutthroat and bull trout in the North Fork and Kelly Creek, which are renowned blue ribbon trout streams, attracting anglers from across the globe.
Based on our concerns, we filed an administrative objection to the Dead Laundry Project in June. The Forest Service met with ICL to see if a resolution could be reached. As a result of this process, the Forest Service agreed to remove eight logging units from the final timber sale. The new roads that would have been built to log these units will also be dropped, reducing the threat of sediment pollution in the streams.
The Forest Service also agreed to partner with ICL and other interested parties to develop a separate watershed restoration project, designed to improve water quality and fish habitat, due to past logging and road building that have resulted in excessive levels of sediment.
Whether it’s a proposed gold mine, a logging project, or recreation infrastructure, ICL reviews state, federal, and private proposals that impact our public lands to ensure they protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the lands and wildlife we love. Learn more and support our mission to protect Idaho’s forests, public lands, and clean water!