Shared Stewardship/No Boundaries Forestry: How $450,000 in annual legislative funding went to workThursday January 20, 2022
(Boise) A theme this week at the Idaho Legislature: Proactive Forest Management in an Era of Wildfire. A major effort led by the Idaho Department of Lands known as No Boundaries Forestry is setting the standard of “proactive forest management” across ownership boundaries as part of Idaho’s Shared Stewardship initiative. It is already improving forestland in targeted areas designated as high-risk for potential catastrophic wildfire and insect and disease outbreaks.
There are two priority landscapes, one in northern Idaho associated with Bonner and Kootenai counties and the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. The other is in southern Idaho, associated with Valley, Adams and Gem counties and the Boise and Payette National Forests.
What makes this effort unique is that the priority landscapes cover private, state, and federal lands. Instead of only having a spotty, inconsistent patchwork quilt of improvements that leaves untreated land at risk, cross-boundary work creates larger treatments across contiguous acres that can reduce catastrophic fire damage.
“Wildfires don’t know boundaries, and neither should forest management,” said Dustin Miller, Director of the Idaho Department of Lands. “We play a major role in cross-boundary forestry work by sharing our expertise, staff and resources as well as working closely with private forest owners.”
In fiscal years 2021 and 2022, $450,000 in annual funding for Shared Stewardship was approved by the Idaho Legislature and the results show the value of proactive forest management in the era of extreme wildfire.
Projects: These funds, combined with granted federal funds, are supporting the implementation of needed treatments on additional private forestlands in our cross-boundary project areas. Some funding is being used to facilitate unexpected (and un-budgeted) fuels-reduction operations on state endowment forestlands in these same areas.
Outreach: Dollars went toward facilitating marketing, outreach, and educational efforts to gain buy-in from targeted private landowners, garner interest from a wider set of partners, and attract additional funding sources to support cross-boundary treatments on Idaho forestlands.
People: Partial salaries of USFS shared positions/regional Shared Stewardship coordinators, support of three contracted forestry consultants, and partial salaries of two IDL GNA/Shared Stewardship foresters.
Education: Funding to facilitate additional UI Extension Forestry Short-Course classes for targeted private forestland owners in the Scattered Lands/Bonner County cross-boundary project area. Support of additional printing and dissemination of educational/informational materials on fire-risk-reduction around homes developed by Idaho Firewise and other fire-prevention organizations.
More on No Boundaries Forestry/Shared Stewardship: The Idaho Department of Lands, the USDA Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service are sharing staff, funding, and are joining with a governor-appointed advisory group to identify mutual priorities and cross-boundary forest management opportunities. Idaho’s Shared Stewardship Initiatives include approaches and cross-boundary projects to align the efforts of multiple agencies, utilities, non-governmental organizations and landowners to implement effective forest treatments to lessen the existing forest-health and wildfire risks.