Last week we had the opportunity to take KXLY-TV in Spokane to the site of the Tower Fire Salvage and Rehabilitation Project on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. Thank you to Idaho Forest Group for accommodating us. Here's the story they filed:
The Tower Fire Salvage and Reforestation Project is a response to the 25,000-acre Tower Fire last year. This was a major catastrophic wildfire where intense heat burned through dry fuels on the forest floor and upper layers of the soil.
The project is designed to protect the health and safety of the public by removing hazardous trees, capture the economic value of the dead and dying timber, and reforest areas burned by the fires. The goal is to recover the forest more quickly while supporting the local economy.
This is a model project. It was developed through local collaboration among diverse stakeholders, and is a rare case of a federal forest rehabilitation project getting underway within a year of the fire.
Removal of the burned trees will reduce large fuel loading over time, thus reducing future fire severity while increasing the ability of firefighters to control future fires.
Also, the removal of the burned trees will prepare the area for safe and timely reforestation with desired and natural early seral tree species (ie young and mixed-aged forests) benefiting a number of wildlife species.
With over 80 million acres of forests vulnerable to severe wildlife, and with over 3 million acres already burned this year, we need more projects like this to address the forest health and post-fire challenges we're facing in the Inland Northwest. But we need to give the Forest Service the resources and tools to get the job done.
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