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The Salmon-Challis National Forest, Challis-Yankee Fork Ranger District is conducting an analysis on proposed management actions in the Big Hill area, west of Challis, Idaho. The Big Hill Insect and Disease project was developed to increase forest stand resiliency to insects, disease, and other disturbances, such as wildland fire. This project was designated in accordance with the 2014 Farm Bill. The planning area is approximately 3000 acres and is located seven miles west of Challis in Custer County, ID.

Currently in the project area, many stands of trees are heavily stocked and experiencing impacts from insects and disease. Fire behavior modeling indicates if a wildfire is established on a normal summer day, it would become a crown fire. Such a crown fire would pose a significant threat to adjacent private property or homes and to the municipal watershed for Challis in the Garden Creek drainage.

The District is considering the following preliminary proposed actions within the project area:

• Increase stand resilience by thinning heavily stocked conifer or disease infected stands. Retention of large trees will be maximized where it increases resiliency. Where practical, timber harvest will be used to thin trees. Mechanical thinning will be considered where timber harvest is not practical due to terrain or access. Leftover slash will be scattered or piled and then burned on site. Boles of cut trees will be left out of piles for fuelwood gatherers with valid firewood permits to utilize.

• Create natural regeneration and protection of aspen and sagebrush stands by removing encroachment by conifers through mechanical thinning, prescribed fire and harvest of conifers.

• Apply prescribed fire to restore the natural role of fire to the ecosystem of area. Prescribed fire may be used as a follow-up to other treatments or as a primary treatment for units.

A community meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 30th at the Challis-Yankee Fork District Office at 4:30 p.m. and will include a discussion regarding the Big Hill Insect and Disease project with a presentation and handouts.

An additional community meeting, with a site visit to the project area, will take place on Saturday, July 11th for those interested persons that may not be able to make the June 30th meeting or for those who wish to visit the project area. If field going, please wear appropriate clothing for walking outdoors, including sturdy shoes, and bring water. The Saturday, July 11th meeting will start at the Challis-Yankee Fork District office at 9:30 a.m. and participants will carpool to the project area after a short project presentation. Transportation will not be provided. Stops will include discussions on the current insect, disease, and wildfire concerns within existing stands or project area, as well as treatment objectives or opportunities for these concerns. Please RSVP by Wednesday, July 8th for the Saturday, July 11th meeting and site visit by calling Riley Rhoades at 208-879-4100.

You are also invited to participate in planning process by providing specific written comments to us during this public scoping period. To assist us in identifying extraordinary circumstances (36 CFR 220.6b); comments should be as specific as possible. Comments can be submitted in writing to: Katherine L. Wood, Challis-Yankee Fork District Ranger, by mail, H.C. 63 Box 1669, Challis, Idaho 83226 or, by facsimile to (208) 879-4199 or delivered in person. Oral comments must be provided at the Responsible Official’s office during normal business hours via telephone (208-879-4100) or in person. Electronic comments may be submitted to:

Additional information regarding this proposal may be found at:

If you have any questions about this proposal or need additional information, please contact Riley Rhoades at USDA-Forest Service, Challis-Yankee Fork Ranger District, H.C.63 Box 1669, Challis, ID 83226; 208-879-4100. We appreciate your interest in the management of our public lands and look forward to hearing from you.

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