ST. JOE ECOSYSTEM
ST. JOE RANGER DISTRICT
IDAHO PANHANDLE NATIONAL FORESTS
The St. Joe Ecosystem Restoration Project consists of multi-faceted and integrated activities to improve the terrestrial and aquatic conditions of the St. Joe River sub basin, an area that encompasses over 1,500,000 acres. Approximately forty seven percent is National Forest System lands. The other 53% of the land base is in large corporation, private, state and other federal ownership.
Briefly, this project includes securing at risk native aquatic species and watershed restoration through; road obliteration, storage and road reconstruction, and removal of fish blockages; restoration of vegetative composition and structure through timber harvest and burning; creation of a fuel hazard reduction zone through thinning; wildlife habitat improvement through burning and access management; improving river access; and management of a forest road system that provides public and management access to maintain high quality recreation opportunities and sustainable ecosystems. The project meets the following specific objectives:
WATERSHED HEALTH AND RESTORATION
SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT
NATIONAL FOREST ROADS
Several partners are working with the National Forest to coordinate efforts across many ownerships in the St. Joe watershed. Partners include the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, Shoshone County, Potlatch Corporation, Crown Pacific Inland, Trout Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and many local interest groups such as the North Idaho Fly Casters, Taft Tunnel Preservation Society, Panhandle Backcountry Horsemen and the St. Joe Snowriders.
In 2000 the primary focus was on reducing adverse effects (sediment production) associated with forest roads. Work included obliteration of 53.2 miles of road, 37 miles of road reconditioning and 315 acres of roadside noxious weed control. In addition, 800 acres of wildlife habitat were burned to improve browse and 3 acres of riparian habitat were planted to native brush species.
In 2001 a broader approach is being implemented. Projects include: coordinated access management between corporate landowners, the State and the National Forest; instream fish habitat improvement; dam removal; wildlife burns, vegetative work including timber harvest and thinning; noxious weed spraying; road obliteration, decommissioning and reconditioning, and; the next phase of planning and analysis.