30 Sep 2008, 2:11pm
2007 Fire Season
by admin

More Resource Damage From Payette Fires

In 2007 over 470,000 acres were burned on the Payette National Forest. We have posted about that tragedy many times [here, here, and here, for instance].

The party line from the USFS and their “enviro” partners is that the fires benefited resources.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Vegetation, habitat, soils, streams, roads, and comunities were severely affected.

Yet another example of the damages wrought is described in the latest news release from the Payette NF. It seems that the fires killed trees and the resulting snags fell over, littering the landscape with debris. Over 400 miles of trails were cleared this summer, but that was only a portion of the trail system needing repair.

For the News Release, click , <Read more> below.

News Release, Payette NF, September 29, 2008 [here]

400 Miles of Trail Cleared on the Krassel Ranger District

This year was incredibly challenging for the trail maintenance program on the Krassel District, but trail crews made commendable progress in clearing trails this field season. There are over 1000 miles of trail on the district, with 700 miles in the Wilderness and the balance in the South Fork. Krassel Ranger District was able to maintain and clear 240 miles of trail in the Wilderness and 160 miles of trail throughout the District with two Forest Service trail crews who were assisted by 18 Student Conservation Association interns and high school students and 12 Northwest Youth Corps workers.

The district’s 2008 planned trail maintenance program was very ambitious, and the district had the resources to get a lot done this year. However, the volume of work this year was unprecedented. Many routine trail swings could not be completed this summer. A trail crew is typically sent on trail swings consisting of 10-day work periods in a specific area where they camp outdoors at night and work on trails during the day. Work took almost twice as long as had been projected due to a number of factors, but mostly due to debris flows that were a result of wildfire over the last few years.

The increasing presence of wildfire over the last 20 years has a huge impact on the amount of trail work needed. This year Crooked Creek and Monumental Creek trails both had huge debris flows over them that required considerable crew time to clear. The trail crews did an excellent job in clearing these trails, though it seemed an impossible task at the outset.

The first Wilderness trail that crews start on in the spring is Big Creek, and the crews found themselves returning to that trail throughout the summer. Thanks to persistent crewmembers, the district was able to keep the Big Creek Trail safe and open to the public. From there the next priorities in the Wilderness are the main trails: Big Creek to Chamberlain (Beaver Creek via Hand Meadows), Big Creek to Cold Meadows (via Crooked Creek) and Cold Meadows to Chamberlain. Then crews start on other key routes such as the Monumental Creek trail and the trail up Chamberlain Creek to Sheepeater Lookout.

After these key routes have been worked crews begin maintenance on other trails. But not all these second and third tier trails will get maintenance in any given year. In some cases a trail may effectively “disappear” after many years of not receiving maintenance, but this is a rare occurrence.

Please feel free to contact the district if your group is interested in the maintenance status of a particular trail. District staff will be happy to share what is known about a trail’s current condition.

As an IMPORTANT reminder, even on those trails that have been cleared and maintained, one should expect to encounter downfall and other travel challenges. If traveling with stock it’s a good idea to carry a saw and ax and to be ready for delays caused by potential travel obstacles. Safety should always be the first consideration when traveling in the backcountry.

The Krassel Ranger District does its best to effectively use the funds allocated for trail maintenance. Though desired and needed, the District is unable to work every trail every year and must prioritize work on the District on a rotating basis. The district will continue to do its best to use resources to the best advantage and set priorities based on need, funding, and other factors. Please contact Clem Pope at 208-634-0616 with questions or comments about trail maintenance on the Krassel Ranger District.

30 Sep 2008, 7:55pm
by YPmule

I can’t understand why they keep saying these unnatural fires ‘benefit resources’ - we have not seen these benefits. Monumental Creek and Crooked Creek are large tributaries of Big Creek - important to our ENDANGERED salmon. Big Creek flows east to join the Middle Fork of the Salmon. The 2000 fires were so hot down there it warped a steel bridge. The “Frank” has burned and burned and burned again, and you can see from the above photo that the next time it burns in that spot it will be a very hot fire.

About 20 years ago, I took 2 fellows with the Nez Perce fisheries down Big Creek to where Monumental and Crooked creeks join, to count salmon. It was a great trip (the cook at the BC Lodge put giant homemade cinnamon rolls in our lunch!) and I learned a lot about salmon. I doubt I will ever make that trip again, it would break my heart to see what has happened to that country.

Closer to home, the fires last summer have left quite an impact. Besides the cost of the fires, and the rehab (they never say how much that costs) plus the economic loss to the local businesses. Never mind the stress and smoke taking a toll on the health of the residents! We can add the costs of trail and road repairs.

I think the bill is now over $2 million for roads, culverts and bridges so far this year just for roads to serve a few back country hamlets, and they are not done yet. The South Fork Salmon River road was closed for the 2006 and 2007 fires, and closed most of this summer for culverts and fish passage and probably some mudslides from our summer thunder storms.

The East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon Road had major mud slide damage,
and has been closed quit a bit this year and will be closed most of next summer to replace a bridge one of their back fires burned, and to complete repairs to the Parks creek crossing.

I got a bit off subject - I stared to comment about trail work. Some of the major trails were cleared this summer, many many more will remain impassible (or were cleared by users). I would think they will use this mess as an excuse to close trails - citing budgets - and keep more people out.

Outside of the wilderness they have closed off more campsites and side roads in preparation for their new Travel Plan and Roadless map. And because of the fires they will be able to close off more roads as the land will be too sensitive for travel.

As full time residents and tax payers - We the People do not see benefits from these fires - and we are sick of the destruction of our forests.



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