Future visitors to McCroskey State Park will see the forest of the past, thanks to fire.
Intentional burning is planned at the natural park for the first time, said Randall Butt of the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. The result should be more open stands of trees, like those that existed historically at the Benewah County site.
The “prescribed fire” will improve the park for future visitors, Butt said.
“They’ll see more of the historical stands of Ponderosa pine, which constantly had small underburns going through.
“They’ll have a greater chance of seeing wildlife. Fire burns back the brush, and the (new) buds will be more attractive to animals. It also brings back more of the native vegetation.”
The U.S. Forest Service will do the burning. The Clearwater National Forest has lands intermingled with the 5,300-acre park. In fact, the first 22-acre burn next spring will be at the site of the recent federal Mineral Mountain timber sale.
The parks department will put information boards up along Skyline Drive to explain the role of fire in the ecosystem, Butt said.
A wildfire this summer produced a two-acre demonstration area, Butt said. It removed the “duff,” or natural litter, from the ground and cleared encroaching firs.
The main entrance to the remote park is King Valley Road at DeSmet, where the parks department put up new directional signs this summer. McCroskey also can be reached by turning west onto Skyline Drive off U.S. Highway 95.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map: McCroskey State Park