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Forest project mixes jobs, restoration, timber cut

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 21, 2013 at 12:51 pm •  Published: April 21, 2013

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service has released a draft impact statement for a restoration project in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest in northern Idaho intended to make the forest more resistant to fire, insects, disease and climate change.

The recently released plan calls for a mix of timber harvest, prescribed fire, road obliteration and culvert replacement in a 44,000-acre area 5 miles southeast of Kooskia. The plan includes multiple timber sales over several years the agency said would produce up to 85 million board feet of timber and create up to 2,000 jobs.

The plan is the result of a 5-year collaborative process by the Forest Service and Clearwater Basin Collaborative, made up of county commissioners, timber industry representatives and conservation organizations.

"They (collaborative members) were the ones that urged us to go big and do what needs to be done," Mike Ward, project coordinator of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, told the Lewiston Tribune reports ( ). "For years we had fallen back to small, safe decisions. They were really supportive of large, landscape-level restoration type of work."

Ward said the collaborative group helped the Forest Service develop the project but didn't dictate the final decisions.

Commercial thinning is planned in areas that were planted in the 1960s and 1970s following large clear-cuts. Where fire suppression has led to a dense mix of tree species that tend to be the same age, the Forest Service plans regeneration harvest, which is similar to clear cutting but leaves pockets of trees living as well as some dead trees for wildlife habitat. That would leave irregular openings and stands of trees

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