Restoring forest stands to a more resilient condition creates a variety of benefits – ecological, economical, social. Lemhi Forest Restoration Group (LFRG) has committed to supporting forest restoration activities on the Salmon Challis National Forest (SCNF), monitoring results, involving students and citizens in on-the-ground science, and fostering trust amoung partners. Our success has hinged on people who are willing to learn and raise questions collectively, spend time in the field together, and show respect for others and their ideas.
The LFRG selected the Hughes Creek area of the North Fork District as their first collaborative project in August 2006. In April 2007, the group provided the Forest Service with their consensus recommendation. This 13,000 acre project was completed in 2013.
“Our traditional method of planning usually involved the Forest Service developing a proposal and then having all interested parties throw rocks at it. More often that not on these complex vegetation management projects, the end result was appeals and litigation, not results on the ground,” said North Zone District Ranger Russ Bacon. “Thanks to the collaborative process in Hughes Creek many of the areas of disagreement were ironed out during project development. As a result we ended up with a project that received no formal objections."
The Upper North Fork Forest Restoration project encompasses more than 41,000 acres of National Forest lands between Lost Trail Pass and the Hughes Creek area on the North Fork District. Members of the LFRG first started discussing a possible landscape-level forest restoration project in May 2008. Three Idaho Roadless Areas lie within the project area as well as critical high mountain wildlife habitat.
"This collaborative effort is a great success story and the proposed work that will be accomplished on the ground because of it will be a testament to the importance of collaboration," said North Zone District Ranger Ken Gebhardt. In September of 2014, the SCNF signed a Record of Decision for the project, receiving no objections to the collaboratively designed project.
The importance of Salmon’s Municipal Watershed—and its vulnerability—has been a topic of discussion for nearly as long as Salmon has used water from the four drainages that make up the watershed and originate on National Forest Lands.
In 2010, the Salmon-Challis National Forest and the LFRG began formally collaboratiing with LFRG on a potential fuels reduction/forest restoration project in the watershed. This project would incluce approximately 20,000 acres and address hazardous fuel treatments that would protect the watershed from large wildland fires.