The Wood River Valley has been hit hard by wildfires
over the past several years, devastating much of the surrounding landscape, as well as the summer tourism industry.
Now, as a way to try to curb that—as well as restore watersheds, manage water quality and quantity, control invasive species and develop recreation at higher altitudes—Blaine County commissioners have agreed to contribute $5,000 to a study that would assess the area's vulnerability to climate change and provide recommendations for the future.
According to the Idaho Mountain Express
, Sawtooth National Forest Environmental Coordinator Carol Brown presented a $30,000 Wood River Climate Adaptation Plan, which could be led by the U.S. Forest Service and local partners.
"Temperatures are predicted to rise from 3 to 11 degrees over the next 50 years," she told the commissioners at a meeting earlier this week. "How are we going to prepare for that?"
The plan will compile data from the Bg Wood and Little Wood river drainages—looking closely at water availability and fire activity. One commissioner suggested broadening the study to include Silver Creek.
Several groups in the valley already deal with issues related to climate change, and Brown said she hopes her plan wold bring them all together to provide concrete recommendations for the county. The Sawtooth National Forest is willing to provide another $5,000 for the plan, Brown said, and she also plans to ask the cities of Ketchum and Hailey, as well as the Bureau of Land Management, for $5,000 each.
The plan calls for the hiring of a half-time employee to work for one year and conduct a resource vulnerability study that could be presented to the community—costing $30,000. The 5B Restoration program is a community-led initiative already working to restore areas damaged by the Beaver Creek Fire
two summers ago.