Reforestation Begins in Burned Area Around the Boise National Forest

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In years past, the Boise National Forest has relied on volunteers to help replant areas severely burned by wildfires. - BOISE NATIONAL FOREST
  • Boise National Forest
  • In years past, the Boise National Forest has relied on volunteers to help replant areas severely burned by wildfires.
In the summer of 2013, the Pony Complex 150,000-acre wildfire ripped through the Boise National Forest, 12 miles northeast of Mountain Home. Now, the Mountain Home Ranger District is looking for volunteers to help plant bitterbrush seedlings in the burned area. The seeding efforts will focus on important winter range for deer and elk near the Anderson Ranch Dam. 

The planting takes place on April 4 and 11, regardless of the weather. 

"This kind of help does a long way towards recovery of this very intense fire area and really contributes to helping wildlife species recover," said the district's wildlife biologist Scott Bodle in a news release. "The combined efforts of helpful citizens, agencies, ranchers and contractors will slowly bring the area back to its original state."

Interested volunteers should contact Bodle by email or at 208-587-7849. Participating in the project requires volunteers to meet at the Mountain Home district office (3080 Industrial Way, just off Highway 20, north of I-84) at 9:30 a.m. each day. Volunteers should bring outdoor work clothes, boots, gloves, shovels if they have them and a lunch.

Other replanting efforts in the Mountain Home Ranger District will cause the closure of several forest service roads during the spring. The forest service roads north of Featherville including road numbers 100, 112, 132, 135, 157, 157S and 158 will be closed through April 30.

Closing these roads will allow access for tree planting crews working on the Trinity Ridge fire area. That fire, which reached more than 145,000 acres, burned in 2012. Crews will be planting conifer seedlings in the area over the next ten years. The area suffered nearly 100 percent conifer mortality from the fire.

To help in the replanting of areas like these, the Lucky Peak Nursery just outside of Boise produces more than two million one- and two-year-old trees and shrubs. The seedlings are used for public land reforestation in the intermountain west from areas damaged by wildfire and timber harvest. 

Once those seedlings are distributed, the nursery allows the public to purchase the surplus. The seedling sale begins on Saturday, March 28 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and runs Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. through the end of April. Fifty bareroot seedlings—enough to fit in a standard grocery bag—costs $30. Seedlings include ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir and western larch. They're recommended for rural areas and for landowners who need trees for windbreaks, wildlife habitat and forest enhancement on their properties.

Prescribed burns help achieve the ecological benefits of wildfire, without devastating so much of the land. - BOISE NATIONAL FOREST
  • Boise National Forest
  • Prescribed burns help achieve the ecological benefits of wildfire, without devastating so much of the land.
Along with reseeding efforts in the Boise National Forest, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Idaho Department of Lands also announced the start of the 2015 prescribed fire program. The state and federal agencies plan to ignite fires on up to 30,977 acres of public land across the state. 18,500 acres are slated to burn in the spring and 12,500 acres will burn in the fall.

The interagency program pays close attention to weather and fuel conditions as well as air quality in both Idaho and Montana. It works closely with rural communities to reduce fire risks along the Wildland Urban Interface, as well as the Montana/Idaho Airshed Group (based in Missoula, Mont.) to ensure air quality remains acceptable while controlled burns are taking place.

The purpose of prescribed fires is to create the natural and positive effects of fire in ecosystems and reduce fuels from excessive trees and brush that could feed large wildfires.