If you’ve spent time on Brundage Mountain or in the other thousands of acres around McCall, the Forest Service wants to hear from you! The Forest Service is working on the Granite Meadows forest restoration project northwest of McCall. The 83,000-acre project includes Bear Basin, Brundage Mountain and beyond. And the Forest Service is looking to hear from citizens like you for ideas and feedback about the project and the future of the area. The most detailed description of the proposed action can be found here.
In addition to thinning and prescribed burning, the Forest Service will be considering recreational improvements which may include upgrading trails, adding some currently unauthorized trails to the system and decommissioning other routes that are negatively impacting other resources. Do you have thoughts about which trails should stay and which ones you could live without if there is a wildlife benefit? Speak up!
You can also let the Forest Service know if you have suggestions for new or improved campsites, restroom facilities, kiosks, signage, parking areas, or ways to reduce conflicts between user groups. Specific to the Brundage Resort, let the Forest Service know if you have thoughts on where or how to conduct thinning or prescribed burning activities at Brundage in a way that avoids or minimizes impacts to winter skiing and riding.
If you love to recreate in these places, now is a great time to be a part of the conversation for the future. Share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences about this forest restoration project during the comment period. Ready to take action? Submit your comment by Dec. 15. Need more info and suggested talking points? Keep reading below!
"Forest restoration" sounds good but what is it exactly?
Landscape restoration projects like these involve commercial thinning (i.e. logging) in suitable areas, pre-commercial thinning (removing non-commercial trees), prescribed burning, decommissioning redundant roads, and improving trails or facilities. Large-scale (30,000 acre+) restoration projects are important because both wildlife and wildfires move through large areas. The key to designing a good restoration project is having feedback from locals who know the trails and the backcountry areas. The Forest Service will also be considering some recreational improvements which may include upgrading, adding and/or decommissioning trails.
Granite Meadows was developed with a local collaborative
The Payette Forest Coalition (PFC) is a citizen-led local collaborative which includes local citizens, recreation groups, sportsmen, county representatives, timber industry representatives and conservation groups, including ICL. The group’s goal is to help the Forest Service address important community issues, like Granite Meadows, early in the process instead of after the fact. Here is an overview of the PFC’s work to date.
We’ve seen the benefits of these restoration activities firsthand
On one of the hottest and windiest days last summer, the Mesa Fire started on Highway 95 and quickly spread to the Payette National Forest. The results were complete tree mortality, including within the riparian area and the previously thinned areas. Forest Service staff said that under those conditions, that no amount of treatment was going to stop a fire. But instead of the fire building momentum as it moved upslope through the forest, the thinning and prescribed fire from the PFC’s Mill Creek Council Mountain Project helped diffuse the fire’s energy. Patches of green trees were left intact and were intermixed with areas of mortality and fire crews were free to manage other wildfires. We believe that the Granite Meadows Project area will help make fires more manageable and the landscape more resilient to disturbance.
If you own private property in the area or know someone who does, you can help to by creating defensible space around your home and improve the wildlife habitat on your own property. The Granite Meadows project area includes private land and the State of Idaho and is designed to allow the Forest Service to enter into cooperative agreements with willing landowners to reduce hazardous fuels and restore habitat. Contact Phil Burgess at 208-347-0325 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
For restoration projects like these, the Forest Service is supposed to retain large-diameter trees that are now underrepresented on the Forest. The Forest Service could provide more details on how they determine which trees to log and which trees to save. Logging and prescribed burning activities may require road or trail closures. Let the Forest Service know if you have any suggestions on ways to avoid or minimize impacts of these activities to recreationists.
The Forest Service is also hoping to do some mechanical treatments in Riparian Conservation Areas (RCAs) which can be very sensitive to disturbance. The Forest Service should look back at the positive and negative impacts of RCA treatments in other projects as part of this planning effort.
Roads and trails
The U.S. Forest Service will be reviewing the roads and trails network in the area and deciding which priority routes to retain, and which redundant, unauthorized or problematic routes to decommission. There may be the option of upgrading trails, adding unauthorized routes to the system. Let the Forest Service know which roads and trails are a priority to you and which ones could be restored for wildlife habitat.
Let the Forest Service know if you have suggestions for new or improved campsites, restroom facilities, kiosks, signage or parking areas. Also let the Forest Service know if you have suggestions on ways to reduce conflicts between user groups.
Let the Forest Service know if you have any suggestions on where or how to conduct thinning or prescribed burning activities at Brundage in a way that avoids or minimizes impacts to winter skiing and riding.
The Forest Service may adjust grazing levels within the permitted levels to help with project goals. This may include using targeted grazing to reduce fine fuels or decreasing grazing so that more grass is present to help carry prescribed fires. Let the Forest Service know if you have any suggestions on areas that you would like to see grazed more or less.