In the wake of deadly fires in our region in the last several years, the North Central Washington Forest Health Collaborative (NCWFHC) members and partners have been working to lay the groundwork for restoration. To jumpstart the USFS Mission restoration project, NCWFHC has provided volunteer man-hours and supported contractors to do much of the pre-NEPA planning.
The Mission Restoration project in Twisp, Washington is a collaborative effort by NCWFHC and the US Forest Service (USFS) to support the Methow Valley Ranger District in an effort to increase ecosystem health and forest resilience within the Buttermilk and Libby Creek sub-watersheds west.
These efforts include getting boots on the ground to conduct road surveys as well as comprehensive vegetative and aquatic analyses. The NCWFHC recently worked with the District Ranger and staff to develop a proposed action to increase the pace and scale of restoration and take a watershed scale approach to project development. The proposed action includes restoring aquatic habitat, soil productivity, vegetation composition, wildlife habitat, reduction of hazardous fuels, and providing a safe and sustainable transportation system within the project area.
The Mission Project area encompasses about 50,000 acres in the two watersheds at the western edge of the Carlton Complex Fire perimeter. Forest resilience and ecosystem health within the Buttermilk and Libby Creek area have declined as the forest has become overcrowded and streams have been impacted by increased sediment. The Mission project is currently going through environmental analysis which is expected to be completed soon. One of many goals is that collaboration on this project will help guide and improve collaboration on future Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest projects.
NCWFHC was formed three years ago and its membership includes conservation, timber industry, government and tribal representatives who are interested in increasing the scale and pace of forest restoration projects in the region. Partial funding for the Mission Restoration project comes from funds received by the North Central Washington Forest Health Collaborative from the National Forest Foundation’s Community Capacity and Land Stewardship Program.
A full description of the needs identified, as well as maps of initial proposals for treatment, can be found online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=49201.