- Boise National Forest
- The Pioneer Wildfire burned nearly 200,000 acres in 2016.
Speakers at the Idaho Environmental Forum on March 21 offered a glimpse of the trail ahead for the still-recovering Boise National Forest. According to Idaho City District Ranger Brant Petersen, fire "changes the forest and costs more money than anything else we do." That has included dramatic changes to the commercial logging and recreation industries, he said—not to mention the environmental health of the forest.
The fire produced a huge volume of salvageable timber. Estimates are still being conducted, but Petersen said there may be between 70 million and 80 million board feet of timber in the burn zone, but "volume's tricky—some of it burned up." Also burned were a number of rentable yurts. Meanwhile, stands of dead trees, waiting for a gust of wind or erosion to topple over trails, pose a public hazard. The blaze also destroyed approximately 900 assurance and directional signs.
"A wrong turn will take you a long, long, long, long way off," said David Claycomb, recreation bureau chief at the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.
Underpinning much of the conversation at the panel discussion, which also included Elizabeth Spaulding, a facilitator for the Boise Forest Coalition, was the incidence of wildfires. In 23 years, 68 percent of the district where Petersen works has burned.
"That's my view of climate change—what's at risk and what can we do about it?" he said.