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Caribou Fire timber salvage OK’d

August 6, 2018

Another timber salvage project has been approved on the Kootenai National Forest.

Forest Supervisor Christopher Savage on Monday signed the decision for the Caribou Fire salvage and restoration project located on the Rexford Ranger District. The decision recovers the economic value of timber damaged in last summer’s Caribou Fire, which burned 24,753 acres north of Eureka.

The project will include salvaging approximately 4,075 acres of dead and dying trees on the Kootenai Forest, amounting for an estimated 39 million board feet of timber. Efforts are also being made to remove hazardous trees along 45.5 miles of road, providing 1,801 acres for reforestation, and soil restoration.

The decision notes that much of the Caribou Fire burned with high severity, “so assessing tree mortality is straightforward. It is often the case that no living foliage remains.”

The Kootenai Forest earlier this summer approved similar salvage projects for the Cub Creek and West Fork fires. The Cub Creek project will include salvaging approximately 1,477 acres of dead and dying trees, while the West Fork project involves salvaging approximately 3,120 acres of burned forest.

“This is the third and final of the large scale projects on the Kootenai National Forest that will address the fire salvage opportunities from last year’s fires,” Savage said. “Salvaging fire-killed trees will contribute to employment and income in local communities affected by wildfire.”

Salvage efforts are expected to begin later this summer.

The Forest Service was able to expedite the project under the approved “Emergency Situation Determination,” which determined the Caribou salvage was “an emergency situation based on a need to avoid a loss of commodity value in the trees to be salvaged.”

Savage said the project was developed with extensive public involvement, including discussions with tribes, state and county governments, the public and timber industry representatives.

The EA and decision, along with supporting documentation, is available on the Kootenai National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=53032. For more information about this project, contact Rexford/Fortine District Ranger Bryan Donner at 406-296-2536.

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