Buckskin Saddle project final decision signed

Restoration efforts aimed at mitigating fire risk near Clark Fork

By Reader Staff

The Idaho Panhandle National Forests announced April 27 that Sandpoint District Ranger Jessie Berner had signed that final decision on the Buckskin Saddle Project — a more than 50,000-acre forest restoration effort located on the east side of Lake Pend Oreille near Clark Fork.

A map of the Buckskin Saddle Area on the eastern side of Lake Pend Oreille. Map courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

According to decision documents, the project aims to improve the forest’s “resiliency” against fire, drought, insects and diseases; stimulate local economies with timber products; reduce sediment delivery in area streams; improve owl and elk habitat; as well as improve trails, roads and “scenic quality” in the area.

“We look forward to implementing these restoration treatments within the Buckskin Saddle project area,” Berner said. “We’ve designed the treatments to enhance and restore vegetation communities, address hazardous fuels, repair old roads, and reduce sources of road sediment to benefit water quality and aquatic habitat. 

“We really appreciate the public and collaborative support throughout the project planning and development phases,” she continued. “This is a great example of working together to make our local communities safer from wildfire risk and improving forest health.”

According to IPNF officials, the Buckskin project will take on “13,005 acres of commercial timber harvest and approximately 6,469 acres of noncommercial harvest and fuels reduction.” In addition, the project will include about 172 miles of road maintenance, and 24 miles of new forest road construction.

According to IPNF, the first road improvement activities are planned for the fall of 2021 in the Johnson and Granite Creek drainages. 

Work “will be completed in phases over the next 10-15 years,” according to official decision documents.

More information about the project, including the final decision and other planning documents, are available online at fs.usda.gov/project/?project=52563.

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