Federal officials plan to set fires on up to 1,700 acres in North Idaho this fall as part of prescribed burning.
The U.S. Forest Service has targeted 300 to 500 acres for burning near Coeur d’Alene Mountain, Thompson Lake, Avery Creek, Thompson Pass, and south and east of Hayden Lake. In addition, up to 1,100 acres could be burned in the upper reaches of the St. Joe River.
The Bureau of Land Management also plans to burn about 30 acres near Killarney Lake and 55 acres near Blue Lake. The Killarney Lake picnic site and boat launch will remain open, though short traffic delays may occur on Killarney Lake Road.
The burns will help reintroduce fire to fire-adapted ponderosa pine stands, according to BLM officials. The fires also will reduce hazardous fuels, including stands killed by mountain pine beetles, and improve big game forage and prepare sites for tree replanting, Forest Service officials said.
Fire personnel will work closely with the Idaho-Montana Airshed Group, the National Weather Service and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to reduce smoke impacts. Some of the sites were thinned in preparation for the fires.
A recent study found that fuel treatments can reduce fire intensity and protect older trees that provide important wildlife habitat and carbon storage. The study, done by the Forest Service and University of Washington, examined the 2006 Tripod fire on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, which burned 176,000 acres.
The Tripod fire killed more than 80 percent of the trees in stands without prescribed burns. Nearly 60 percent of trees survived in stands that had been thinned and subjected to controlled burns.