The wild fires that are burning across Idaho today are filling our communities with smoke, forcing people from their homes and causing problems for campers, floaters and tourism related businesses.
For the most part they are also carrying out valuable ecosystem restoration services. Contrary to most news reports, the thousands of acres that have burned have not been destroyed, devastated or “burned so hot nothing will grow.”
But in some places, especially near communities, roads or in watersheds we depend on for local water supplies, severely burned areas and very steep slopes restoration efforts soon after the fires is critical. After we have spent millions fighting fires we need to spend more to ensure the fires impact is light on the land and us.
Taxpayer dollars will cover most of the cost. But there is way people can contribute to the solution themselves.
That’s why the National Forest Foundation set up the Wildfire Recovery Fund to allow people to donate to pay for work crews to protect waterways, stabilize soils, prevent mudslides and plant new trees following wildfires.
“Our work isn’t over when we’ve put the fire out. If restoration efforts aren’t underway before the next big storm hits, critical drinking water supplies may be endangered and overall forest health compromised for years to come,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.
Some of the primary stabilization techniques used include reseeding of ground cover with quick-growing or native species, mulching with straw or chipped wood, construction of straw, rock or log dams in small tributaries and placement of logs to catch sediment on hill slopes are the primary stabilization techniques used. Work crews might also need to modify road and trail drainage mechanisms by installing debris traps, modifying or removing culverts to allow drainage to flow freely, adding additional drainage dips and constructing emergency spillways to keep roads and bridges from washing out during floods.
This is not new. The U.S. Forest Service and National Forest Foundation have worked together to restore dozens of fire-damaged areas. Founded by Congress in 1991, the National Forest Foundation works to conserve, restore and enhance the 193-million-acre national forest system.
Idaho has 20 million acres of national forest. To learn more go to www.nationalforests.org