Field reconnaissance of the Deer Creek project area has identified the need to:
· Maintain previously-treated forest stands. The project area has an extensive history of past-management that focused on restoring ponderosa pine, white pine and larch and reducing fuels in the Wildland urban interface. There is a need to maintain these previously treated areas in order to keep them on desirable developmental trajectories with regard to composition, structure and fuel loading.
· Increase species diversity and reduce both fire, and insect and disease hazard in portions of the project area currently dominated by relatively homogenous expanses of lodgepole pine and declining grand fir and Douglas-fir stands. Potential stand treatments will mimic historic conditions, reduce insect and disease hazard, and provide greater safety and flexibility for future fire management.
The Deer Creek project area contains over 200 miles of road including 97.2 miles of National Forest System Road and 48.3 miles of unclassified roads located on National Forest System Lands. Using the existing road system for forest management access will require extensive improvements, and the proposal currently includes 35.5 miles of road maintenance and 14.3 miles of road reconstruction. In addition to providing access for vegetation management, road work will improve access for private land owners, forest users and fire suppression. It will also
improve aquatic habitat by replacing culverts, reducing sediment delivery potential for local streams, and by reducing the risk of road fill failures.
In addition to proposed vegetative treatments and road system improvements, the Deer Creek Project also proposes significant improvements to local recreational facilities. The project seeks to improve camping conditions and the boat launch at Solomon Lake, construct a pull through parking lot for snowmobilers on the Deer Creek Road, make improvements to approximately 10 miles of the Goat Mountain and Line Point trail ( #44 ), and to construct a non-motorized loop trail at the Meadow Creek campground.
All of the proposed activities will contribute to the local economy and provide opportunities for local contractors, but the potential economic effects of timber harvest associated with the project are the easiest to quantify. According to the University of Idaho, each million board feet of timber harvested and processed in the state provides approximately 18 jobs (10 in the forest products industry plus 8 indirect jobs in supporting industries), $528,000 in wages and salaries, and generates more than $3.2 million in sales of goods and services. The current proposal would yield approximately 10 million board feet as a byproduct of vegetative treatments.
The Deer Creek project is just one part of a much larger effort to pursue holistic ecological restoration throughout the lower Kootenai River watershed. Working with the Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative to develop and implement projects has been a key to successfully implementing several significant projects to date. KVRI’s collaborative efforts, coupled with approximately $1.4 million dollars annually from the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, has allowed the IPNF to begin restoration work in the Twentymile and Kreist Creek drainages, and on the Buckhorn Ridge area. Through continued partnership the forest will build on this successful basin-wide restoration with continued planning efforts in the Deer Creek, Hellroaring Creek, and Boulder Creek project areas.
For more information on the Deer Creek project, contact the project leader, A.J. Helgenberg at the Sandpoint Ranger District office, (208) 265-6643 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information including maps and a complete project proposal can also be obtained on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest website at www.fs.fed.us/ipnf/eco/manage/nepa/index.html.