The Nature Conservancy is expanding its partnerships with the U.S. Forest Service to include a new agreement with the Idaho Panhandle National Forest (IPNF) aimed at restoring forest health in North Idaho. Building on a model TNC established last year with the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, the partnership advances TNC and the Forest Service’s mutual goal of implementing forest restoration practices that reduce flammable material and the risk of severe wildfires.
A core focus of TNC’s resilient forests program is aimed at scaling restoration practices like thinning and prescribed fire to make Idaho forests and communities more resilient to climate change. There is an urgent need to ramp up fuel reduction treatments, yet a lack of capacity to do so amidst increasingly frequent and catastrophic wildfires that stretch fire management resources thin. TNC’s direct partnerships with the IPNF and other national forests are designed to help fill this gap while furthering TNC’s forest restoration goals.
Over the coming years, TNC and IPNF will coordinate to deploy experienced, trained crews to primarily focus on these proactive treatments under safe and managed conditions. A TNC crew successfully completed a project in IPNF earlier this spring by safely burning more than 20,000 hand piles—piles of woody debris from trimmed trees and bushes—across 400 acres. This effectively removed hazardous flammable materials in a wildland-urban interface area of Kootenai County, helping reduce the threat of severe wildfires to the forest and nearby communities.
“Healthy forests are essential to healthy communities, especially in Idaho,” says Matthew Ward, TNC’s resilient forests strategy manager. “It’s imperative that we increase the pace and scale of forest restoration work because climate change is making our forests more vulnerable to destructive wildfires, drought, disease and pests. We are excited to partner with the U.S. Forest Service on proactive treatments that, over the long term, will help protect our forests and communities from these impacts.”
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories—37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners—we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.