Defensible Space/Hazardous Fuels Reduction

Since 2004, Framing Our Community, Inc. (FOC) has assisted the Nez Perce National Forest, the Bureau of Land Management and Idaho County in hazardous fuels reduction. The objectives include improved safety on National Forest and private lands. To this end FOC has assisted the Federal Agencies in the treatment of hazardous fuels on federal lands that are next to homes and facilities where vegetation poses a risk to human safety and property should a fire occur.

For more information, please email:   joyce@framingourcommunity 

Newsome/Crooked River Defensible Space Project 2004-2005

This defensible space project is located on national forest land adjacent to private homes in the Crooked River and Newsome watersheds, in the Clearwater Basin. There were four goals to this project:

  • Reduce the potential and intensity of wildfire
  • Provide for fire fighter safety in and around at-risk structures
  • Provide training and employment opportunities to learn forest and fuels reduction skills in an educational participatory environment
  • Study the marketability of merchantable materials

These goals were met through two defensible space projects on the southern and western, fire prone sides, of the Elk City Township. Twelve sites were treated in the Newsome watershed and eight sites were treated in the Crooked River watershed.

The need for this project stemmed from high fuel loads, an overcrowded understory and the high mortality rate of a forest that is comprised of 70% lodgepole pine, which is at the end of its 100 year life cycle and heavily infested with Pine Beetle. The result was defensible space around private and historic structures located in the Newsome Creek and Crooked River drainages. Such space will help protect these structures in the event of wildfire emergencies. It was recommended that vegatative growth on federally managed land that is near structures, such as homes and historic sites, be removed or thinned. This action reduced the potential for and intensity of wildfire danger thus creating safer areas where firefighters will have a higher likelihood of successful protection. This project was also aimed at providing training and employment opportunities to the local workforce to learn general forest and fuels reduction skills in an educational, participatory environment and to test the marketing of submerchantible materials. Support for this project came from the USDA Nez Perce National Forest, private land owners, recreational user groups and community organizations. Success provided job and training opportunities, market develpment for low value materials and expanded collaboration between federal agencies and the community.

The environmental analysis for these project sites was completed and a decision to proceed was made October, 2003.  The following prescription was applied:

  • Pruning of limbs to a maximum height of 18 feet above ground, tapering to 6 feet within a distance of 200 feet from structures
  • Thin trees to expand the crown spacing
  • Remove brush, hazard, dead and sapling trees
  • Lop and scatter or pile and burning of thinned material

Additionally, FOC worked with the Red River District fish biologist to designate and drop trees for fish habitat improvement.

Forest Service personnel provided project specifications and direction for anadromous fish habitat improvement. Combined, twenty-six to thirty acres of federally managed land was treated. To be most effective and create a wider defensible zone, FOC applied for and was awarded Idaho Department of Lands, Stevens Funds, to effect treatment on the adjoining private property. This project was completed in November, 2005.