Restoration efforts underway on land burned by Pioneer Fire

The fire charred 188,000 acres of forest land.

BOISE COUNTY - Last year at this time, the huge Pioneer Fire that burned north of Idaho City was still smoldering over nearly 200,000 acres.

This summer, progress was made on efforts to help the forest recover under the watchful eye of environmental groups including the Idaho Conservation League.

Wednesday, the Conservation League took flight to see progress made in the area.

Restoration efforts along with salvage logging have been underway in the Boise National Forest all summer.

Jonathan Oppenheimer of the Idaho Conservation League says it doesn't help that last winter's unrelenting  snow storms took an additional toll on the land.

“Last winter we had a lot of snow runoff, we had some rain events in the spring that did wash out some roads and that kind of a thing, so that's certainly a concern after a fire, impacts after erosion,” said Oppenheimer.

As an environmentalist, Oppenheimer has been keeping a close eye on the work being done by the Boise National Forest.

He says he's pleased that many unneeded old roads in the area have been obliterated to help prevent further problems.

“Whether it’s after a fire or not, it’s important to go in and look and see if they have more roads than they need because roads are really one of the important pathways for sediment and erosion to get into streams,” said Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer also observed, roads that are needed, have been cleared of debris above.

“All those dead tress that burned adjacently to the roads are going to come down eventually, so as those come down on the road it presents safety and travel concerns,” said Oppenheimer.

Shoring up streams and culverts is also part of the Pioneer Fire restoration effort.

But none of this will happen quickly.

Oppenheimer estimates it will take another 10 to 100 years to get the forest back to the way it was before the massive fire.

Once the project is complete, the Boise National Forest estimates just under 4,000 dead trees will be salvaged and new tress will be planted on more than 12,000 acres.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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