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Councilman Jesse Bender is keeping the Salmon City Council up to date on Lemhi County Forest Restoration Collaborative Group efforts being made towards development of a workable fuel reduction plan in the city’s Jesse Creek watershed.

During the council’s August 15 Roundtable discussion Bender presented details of a Restoration Group meeting held that day. She said Bureau of Land Management Forester Bill Baer presented a report he had written after the Clear Creek Fire in 2000. It dealt with potential fuel treatment options in the City of Salmon’s municipal watershed.

It is agreed the fuel load in that area has only become worse in the ten years since the report was written.

Bender said one of the encouraging things in Baer’s watershed evaluation was that even though the catastrophic fire potential was rated as extremely high the actual incidence of fire activity in that area had been quite low during the previous 90 years. Bender said Baer’s study is available on the Salmon Valley Stewardship website. That address is: www.salmonvalley.org

Bender also supplied the council with a fact sheet on results of the Forest Restoration Collaborative’s Hughes Creek project which is in the process of being completed.

As far as the city’s role in the Collaborative group’s efforts on the municipal watershed, Bender said the council needs to take a look at the 1975 Municipal Watershed Plan. That plan, which included an agreement with the Forest Service, stated the city wants nothing done in the watershed area. Given the current conditions Bender said she would hope the city’s stance would be different at this point and should be officially made known. She said a rewrite of the 1975 plan as well as Forest Service agreement might be an appropriate thing to do.

She said she and Councilman Jim Baker feel the city needs to become involved in the Jesse Creek Watershed-Forest Restoration Collaborative Group project in order to determine the city’s role, goals and objectives.

Bender said that Gina Knudson of Salmon Valley Stewardship is contacting the city of Ashland, Oregon to obtain information. That city is known to have participated with the Forest Service in a project somewhat similar to this one and Knudson will ask for details on what role that city played and the logistics of how their project was accomplished.

Baker added he thinks it is important to bring project knowledge to the entire city council. He envisions the city entering into a new agreement with the Forest Service and said the Jesse Creek Watershed project will eventually involve about four cooperative organizations. Baker thinks the council needs to become educated as to the project goals and be involved in the process. He said after the fire season, an informational council workshop should be scheduled with all parties to hear presentations on what fuel reduction possibilities exist.

In the meantime Bender recommended that council members study the Baer report.

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