USFS releases Buckskin Saddle project decision

50,600-acre project is meant to reduce fire, disease, infestation risk on east side of Lake Pend Oreille

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

The U.S. Forest Service released a draft decision, Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for the Buckskin Saddle Integrated Restoration Project on July 13, and opened the project to objections over the following 45 days.

The 50,600-acre project area borders Clark Fork on the east side of Lake Pend Oreille and south of the Clark Fork River.

According to a press release from the Sandpoint Ranger District, “project activities would reduce the risk of insect and disease infestation, and reduce the wildfire danger to local communities and surrounding federal lands, while improving water quality and aquatic habitats, and restoring forest vegetation to a healthy condition.”

The Buckskin Saddle project will put in place commercial vegetation management efforts on about 13,217 acres of land, including 4,604 acres of seed tree harvest; 7,809 acres of shelterwood harvest; 441 acres of improvement cut; and 267 acres of commercial thinning.

“Actions to improve wildlife habitat, aquatic resources, roads, scenery, recreational opportunities and manage noxious weeds are also proposed,” the release stated. “Road treatments would improve drainage, reduce road sediment and provide for safe public travel.”

The project will decommission almost 10 miles of road, while building nearly 31 new miles of forest roads. In total, the Buckskin Saddle project will include the maintenance of about 173 miles of road.

The project will be implemented in phases. USFS officials anticipate the first of the roadwork and timber sales will be awarded in 2021 and the Buckskin Saddle project will continue over the next 15 years.

The draft decision is open to the objection process, whereby those “who previously submitted comments during the scoping and comment period on the Proposed Action are eligible to file an objection,” officials said. Objections must pertain to previously submitted “timely, specific written comments regarding the proposed project” and be submitted within 45 days of the decision’s publish date.

Learn how to submit objections at Those with questions can contact project leader Doug Nishek at [email protected] or 208-267-6765.

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