There are more than 20 million acres of national forest lands in Idaho. These public lands provide opportunities for recreation, habitat for fish and wildlife, and clean water. National forest lands are where you will find some of Idaho’s most precious wildlands and waterways like the Sawtooth Mountains and the Salmon River. Forest plans spell out the management direction for each national forest. The Forest Service revises these plans every 20 to 30 years.

The Nez Perce-Clearwater and Salmon-Challis National Forests

Protecting the Best of Idaho

The Nez Perce-Clearwater and Salmon-Challis National Forests of Idaho are among the largest national forests in the western U.S. These forests are national treasures that provide outstanding recreational opportunities. Salmon and steelhead return from the Pacific Ocean to spawn in the rivers and streams within their boundaries. Mountain goats and wolverines traverse the High Divide and Bitterroot Crest along the Idaho-Montana border, and grizzly bears are appearing in areas where they have not been seen in decades. Existing Forest Plans for the Nez Perce-Clearwater and Salmon-Challis National Forests are severely outdated, both approved in the late 1980s.

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest

The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest is expected to adopt a revised Forest Plan by 2023. ICL is actively engaged in the planning process, and we are advocating for the protection of 300,000 acres of new wilderness areas and 14 new wild and scenic rivers. Wildlands and waters such as the proposed Great Burn, Mallard-Larkins, and Meadow Creek Wilderness Areas and the North Fork and South Fork Clearwater rivers are key priorities for protection. We hope that the new plan will also increase protections for grizzly bears, wolverines, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, old-growth trees, and riparian areas.

Salmon-Challis National Forest

The Salmon-Challis National Forest is similarly bestowed with incredible, rugged scenery, vast roadless areas, and two of the nation’s iconic rivers — the Middle Fork and Main Salmon. In this area, we’ve been involved for several years with the Central Idaho Public Lands Collaborative, a group of diverse stakeholders whose mission is to develop recommendations for the management of public lands that reflect the needs and desires of the general public. Unfortunately, progress on the revision of the Salmon-Challis Forest Plan is currently far behind schedule. Nevertheless, a new Forest Plan for this special part of Central Idaho is inevitable. When Forest Plan revision resumes in the Salmon-Challis, we will work to protect large, connected landscapes in the Pioneer Mountains, Lemhi Range, and around Idaho’s tallest peak — Mt. Borah. ICL will also work to convince the Forest Service to identify potential additions to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, including the headwaters and key tributaries of the Middle Fork Salmon River. We would also like the Forest Service to protect habitat for wolverine, bighorn sheep, and grizzly bears across the region.