The project area, located 7.0 miles west of Cascade, Idaho, included approximately 6,223 acres that fell within one of two Forest priority landscapes designated by the Governor of Idaho and approved by the Secretary of Agriculture for forests at high risk of insect and disease mortality under Section 8204 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill). The project area was located entirely on NFS lands on the Cascade Ranger District of the Forest. Though the project area was located adjacent to the Snowbank Inventoried Roadless Area (IRA), no Project activities were proposed within the IRA.
The French Hazard Wildland-urban Interface Project (French Hazard Project) was a hazardous fuels reduction and vegetation restoration project that addressed the need to treat within the WUI to reduce the risk of wildfire to values such as private property, forest infrastructure, wildlife habitat, visuals, and water quality. The French Hazard Project implemented a suite of vegetation management treatments (commercial and noncommercial thinning, prescribed burning, and mastication) and associated road management activities to restore species composition and stand structure and reduce undesirable species and stand densities while favoring retention of larger diameter, more fire-resistant trees throughout the project area.
Reducing fuel loads, ladder fuels, and stand densities would decrease the likelihood of crown fire and improve the resiliency of treated stands should a wildfire ignition occur. In addition, activities occurring within the WUI would create or enhance defensible space for suppression resources should a wildfire threaten adjacent private properties. Restoring vegetative conditions reflective of the fire-adapted ecosystem, reducing hazardous fuels, and minimizing risks to public health and safety would allow for safe and effective wildfire management in the urban environment.
Specific Tasks and Outcomes
Public Participation—The PSC team finalized the public participation plan and maintained the project mailing list throughout the life of the project. PSC also provided facilitation, meeting documentation, document preparation, and visual aids for a public meeting and field trip to collaborate with agencies and the public.
Content Analysis—PSC completed the content analysis of comments received during the scoping period, identified issues, and reviewed these issues with the Responsible Official. From these comments, the team identified and developed additional alternatives that were not analyzed in detail and modified the proposed action.
Technical Reports—PSC and its subcontractors authored the following technical reports: air quality, botany, noxious weeds, climate change, fuels, fish, hydrology, soils, range, recreation, visuals, Congressionally designated areas, socioeconomic, transportation, vegetation, and wildlife. PSC’s resource specialists also authored a combined biological assessment for botany, fish, and wildlife and participated in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Environmental Assessment, Draft Decision Notice and Draft Finding of No Significant Impact—The PSC team authored the EA, including relevant appendices; DN; and FONSI. Completion of the NEPA documents included developing all maps and completing the Forest Plan consistency determination checklist.
Project Record—PSC maintained the project record and delivered a fully indexed project record upon project completion.