The Salmon-Challis National Forest is one of the crown jewels of the national forest system and the heart of Idaho. At 4.3 million acres, it is the largest forest in the state and the second largest in the lower 48. The Salmon-Challis offers world-class outdoor recreation opportunities, wildlife habitat and clean water while also providing key natural resources that help sustain local communities and businesses.

The Salmon-Challis is chock full of superlative features, including:

  • A large portion of the largest contiguous wilderness area in the lower 48, the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness
  • Two premier wild and scenic rivers,  Middle Fork Salmon River  and main Salmon River
  • Idaho’s highest peak, Borah Peak, as well as the next 19 highest peaks in the state
  • Nearly every species of megafauna present in North America.

The SCNF is currently in year two of a four-year process to  revise their forest plan and wants your input on how to best manage these incredible resources!

Why Is a Forest Plan Important?

A forest plan sets the overall management direction and guidance for a particular national forest. You can think of it as the U.S. Forest Service’s equivalent to a city or county comprehensive plan that guides land use and development. Forest plans do not provide site-specific or project-specific direction. Rather, they provide forest-wide guidance for how the multiple uses of those lands can be best accomplished while supporting ecological, social, and economic sustainability. These plans ultimately guide the management direction of the forest for 20+ years, so they are important to get right!

The 2012 Forest Planning Rule is the federal regulation that guides the Forest Service through the forest plan process. Learn more about how the planning rule guides the revision process.

What Is the Current Status of the Planning Process?

The Forest Service is revising the plan for the Salmon-Challis because the existing plans date back to the late 1980s and no longer provide appropriate management guidance. The revision process takes roughly four years, as outlined here; ICL has been engaged in the process since the onset. Right now, we are in the "Plan Initiation Phase" where the Forest Service will begin to draft the revised forest plan. The forest plan revision team would like input from the public to guide plan development, and provided a plan initiation package to assist stakeholders.  This is a crucial point in the process, as the input the Forest Service receives now will directly shape how the draft forest plan will look.  

ICL’s Priorities

ICL engages in the Salmon-Challis forest plan revision process because our membership (11,000 strong!) cares deeply about the Salmon-Challis National Forest and we recognize how important the forest plan is for the management of those places and resources. Here are some of our general priorities going forward in this process:

  • Citizens continue to be involved in the plan revision process and have their voices heard.
  • River segments are deemed eligible and suitable for future wild and scenic river designation where appropriate.
  • Unroaded areas are identified as recommended wilderness areas where appropriate.
  • Riparian areas and priority watersheds are properly protected.
  • Mining is done responsibly.

Ultimately, we would like to see a forest plan that provides necessary protection for special places –  such as the Pioneer Mountains or Borah Peak – while offering conservation-minded management direction throughout the forest.

How to Get Involved!

  1. The Forest Service is hosting a series of public workshops to discuss the contents of the plan initiation package and update folks on the ongoing wilderness and wild and scenic river processes. We encourage you to attend one of these upcoming workshops to learn more and provide feedback:
    • Salmon, 4-7 pm, Thursday, Nov. 1, at the Idaho Fish and Game conference room
    • Challis, 9-12 pm, Saturday, Nov. 3, at the American Legion Hall
    • Mackay, 9-12 pm, Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the American Legion Hall
    • Hailey, 4-7 pm Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the Community Campus
  2. For folks living in or near the Wood River Valley, we are hosting a Science Pub presentation on the forest plan revision process on the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 7,  at the Sawtooth Brewery in Ketchum. Come and get primed up on the topic before attending the Forest Service workshops in Hailey and Mackay the following week!
  3. For comments, questions, or to learn more about the forest plan revision process: