Portneuf/Westbench Fuels Reduction Project
The Portneuf/Westbench Fuels Reduction Project is a major effort to reduce hazardous fuels in order to protect the Mink Creek community, a wildland urban interface area adjacent to the City of Pocatello, from disastrous wildfires. This project is one of ten fuels reduction projects piloted under the President’s Healthy Forest Initiative (HFI). The project began in 2003 and will take about 9 years to complete. About 2,740 acres will be treated overall, including units on BLM, Forest Service, State, and private lands.
An environmental assessment (EA) for the project was completed in 2003 by the BLM, in partnership with the Forest Service, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, and the Idaho Departments of Lands, Fish and Game, and Environmental Quality. The project area contains dense stands of juniper and mountain brush surrounding a large number of homes. The selected alternative includes treatments designed to reduce these fuels and lower the risk of wildfire to inhabited areas.
The proposed treatments include a combination of mechanical and manual thinning and prescribed burning. The key goals are to reduce hazardous fuels and establish pre-existing fuel breaks in the vegetation mosaic that could help firefighters contain an oncoming blaze in the future. Additional benefits of treatments include improved wildlife habitat and soil stability.
The following is a list of work that was completed in the Portneuf Westbench Project Area as well as other project areas within Bannock County through 2005:
- 400 acres of hand cutting using chainsaws;
- 400 acres of hand piling in Douglas-fir/aspen and juniper woodland;
- 355 acres of juniper cutting with a track-hoe and grinding head attachment;
- 200 acres of pile burning; and
- 3,500 acres of inventory and monitoring.
Planned work for 2006 includes burning of the slash piles created in 2005. In addition, BLM and the Three Rivers RC&D and the Gateway Interagency Fire Front (GIFF) have secured $33,000 in grant funds to treat private lands adjacent to the Buckskin area. This work will likely take place in 2006 and 2007.
Pocatello and the surrounding areas also contain several other fuels reduction projects on BLM lands, including Buckskin, Camelback Mountain, Moonlight Mountain, Lava Ranches and Sawmill Canyon.
Pocatello Field Office | 4350 Cliffs Drive | Pocatello, ID 83204
208-478-6340 | Fax: 208-478-6376 | Office hours: 7:45am - 4:30pm,