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In 2015, the Salmon-Challis National Forest North Fork Ranger District completed multiple hazardous fuels reductions projects within the Upper North Fork Project Area totaling 967 acres. These projects included 170 acres utilizing National Joint Chiefs’ Funding, 414 acres using National Forest Service Washington Office Special Funding, and 383 acres using Forest Service Region 4 Above Base Funding, which there is roughly 650 acres of continual contract work to be completed this year.

In 2016, The North Fork Ranger District Fuels Program will also be targeting an additional 440 acres of hand thinning and slash piling within the Lick Creek drainage south of Gibbonsville. These fuels reduction slash piles will likely be burned in 2017 to allow for sufficient drying and will be implemented when soil moisture and snow conditions are suitable for burning. There is also an additional 500 acres planned for fuels reduction unit preparation, which targets prescribed fire and thinning/piling projects for 2017 implementation (e.g. unit layout, fire line construction, timber stand assessments, etc.).

The Salmon-Challis National Forest has been very successful in applying for and receiving National and Regional funding for these type of projects within the Upper North Fork Project Area. This is due to existing partnerships and collaborative relationships that exist among but not limited to Salmon Valley Stewardship, Lemhi Forest Restoration Group, Lemhi County Wildland Urban Interface Staff, North Fork Rural Fire Department, NRCS, Idaho Department of Lands (Community Fire & Planning,) Idaho Fish & Game; and Idaho Department of Highways.

Salmon, Idaho: –United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie announced a federal investment of over $40 million for restoration of forests near growing communities to reduce wildfire threats, protect water supplies, improve wildlife habitat, and support rural economies. This is the third year of the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership (LRP) between the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public and private lands meet.

“The health of our forests and our rural communities very often go hand in hand,” Bonnie said. “USDA works with other public and thousands of private landowners through a range of programs and partnerships to decrease the threat of wildfire, restore forest habitat, and increase economic and other opportunities for the families and businesses that make their homes near woodlands.”

Bonnie has unveiled 11 new Joint Chiefs projects totaling $7 million for 2016 and committed additional investments totaling nearly $33 million in 27 projects launched in 2014 and 2015. Local partners plan to invest up to an additional $11 million in financial, technical and in-kind assistance for the 38 projects.

Bonnie said, “By taking an all-lands, all hands approach, Forest Service, NRCS, and countless partners are demonstrating that smart, proactive investments to restore forests yield extraordinary benefits for landowners, communities and taxpayers.” Our vision is to restore landscapes regardless of land ownership, reduce wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water quality and supply and improve habitat for at-risk species. We hope to accomplish all this while working seamlessly across public and private lands.

The LRP program moves the Department of Agriculture forward in implementing the intergovernmental direction within National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. The Cohesive Strategy was signed by Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack and Secretary of the Interior Jewell in April 2014 and targets three national goals, fire resilient landscapes, fire adapted communities, and safe effective wildfire response.

“Recognizing that different regions have unique challenges and resources, the President has called upon the federal government to act creatively in order to become more responsive to the ideas and concerns of local leaders and citizens,” said Bonnie. “The Joint Chiefs partnership is one of the many ways USDA is working with local partners to help meet the increasing challenge of protecting communities, watersheds, forests and woodlands from the devastating and increasingly expensive impacts of wildfire and other threats.”

Since its start, $104 million has been invested through USDA’s Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership to reduce wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water resources, and improve habitat for at risk species. Summaries of all projects selected can be found on the NRCS at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/newsroom/features/?cid=stelprdb1270755.

Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect over 400 million acres nationwide, boosting soil and air quality, cleaning and conserving water and enhancing wildlife habitat. For an interactive look at USDA\'s work in conservation and forestry over the course of this Administration, visit http://medium.com/usda-results.

Private landowners that have a need or are interested in hazardous fuels reduction work such as hand thinning and piling on their land can apply through NRSC. Further questions about this process should be directed to Mark Olson at (208) 756-3211 ext. 102.

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