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Heading to North Fork

I can’t think of a better place to talk about the future of public lands than North Fork, Idaho. Since the Lemhi Forest Restoration Group started in 2006, we’ve been going out in to the field with North Fork residents, outfitters who use the area, county commissioners, folks from out of town, firefighters, etc. We’ve talked a lot about fire, and rightfully so. We worked together on the Hughes Creek project, creating a more resilient forest that firefighters say saved their bacon when the Mustang Fire came over the ridge in 2012. We’ve seen young salmon and steelhead habitat improved thanks to the generosity (and patience) of conservation minded ranchers.

We have shared stories of favorite hunting spots, whitewater rapids, huckleberry patches, high mountain lake trout, wolf packs, wolverine, ATV trails, placer mining, and the Continental Divide Trail.

On Wednesday, August 17, at 2 p.m. we’ll meet where many of our field trips over the year have started — the North Fork Fire Station. Rumor has it that Amy Taylor and Darren Parker of Sen. James Risch’s staff will be joining us to see what a collaboratively designed forest restoration project can do to make communities safer from wildfire, improve forest health, and maybe even boost the local economy.

We’re taking advantage of having Sen. Risch’s staff in town so we’ve added a Part 2 to the field tour. Starting at 5 p.m., back at the Fire Station, we’ll talk about how community members and citizens can help direct the upcoming Salmon-Challis National Forest plan revision. We’ll highlight what is working on our public lands, and talk about areas that could be improved upon. Lemhi County is a public lands community. Our area is unique because nearly all of us live here because our livelihood is tied to natural resources on public lands or our lifestyle is.

Our existing Forest Plan is about 30 years old, and many of the assumptions made then are being challenged on a daily basis. The experience I’ve had working with the many, many people of the Lemhi Forest Restoration Group makes me believe that we can chart a future for our public lands that addresses the multiple reasons that people, and animals, have such an affinity for this place.

We’ll see you at the North Fork Fire Station at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17.

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