NEW MEADOWS —The New Meadows Ranger District of the Payette National Forest invites public input on the development of the Brush Mountain Ecosystem Maintenance Burn Project. District Ranger Erin Phelps and her staff value public comment during this scoping period to help inform Forest Service officials as the project is developed. The district requests that comments be submitted through the project webpage at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=59769 by clicking on “Comment/Object on Project” by May 2.

The district will host a virtual public meeting on April 14 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. (Mountain Time). The meeting can be joined through the web at https://usfs.zoomgov.com/j/1609547522 or by phone at (669) 254-5252, meeting ID 160 954 7522.

Prescribed burning and non-commercial thinning is proposed across approximately 27,000 acres to enhance wildlife habitat and forest stand structure and resiliency in portions of the Lower Little Salmon River, Middle Little Salmon River, Upper Little Salmon River, and Beaver Creek-Weiser River watersheds. In addition to work on the Payette National Forest west of New Meadows, Idaho, the project proposes work to be completed on adjacent Bureau of Land Management, State of Idaho, and potentially private lands (subject to agreement) in order to provide a more holistic, landscape-scale level treatment across ownership boundaries.

“This project will support Idaho’s Shared Stewardship efforts to align multiple agencies, organizations, and landowners to work across ownership boundaries and strengthen the resiliency of Idaho’s forests,” said Lynn Oliver, South Idaho Shared Stewardship Coordinator.  Scott Corkill, Area Manager for the Idaho Department of Lands Payette Lake Office, agreed: “It takes all of us working cooperatively together to make a difference.”

The project is currently slated to be completed as a categorical exclusion. Projects may complete National Environmental Policy Act review as a categorical exclusion, pending input from the public and resource specialists about anticipated environmental effects. As a categorical exclusion, this scoping period is the only public comment opportunity before a decision on the project is made by the Forest Service.

“Improving wildlife habitat and forest resilience is important to not only federal and state agencies, but private landowners and the general public as well,” said Erin Phelps, New Meadows District Ranger. “This project is an opportunity for us all to look at these through the lens of nature rather than jurisdictional boundaries.”

Additional information on the project is available in the scoping document on the project webpage. Questions can be directed to Phil Roth, Fire and Fuels Specialist, at (208) 271-2761 or philip.roth@usda.gov, or Erin Phelps, District Ranger, at (208) 514-5809 or erin.phelps@usda.gov

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