Habitat & Conservation  |  01/19/2021

Minidoka Ranger District and Partners Complete Badger Fire Rehab

The Minidoka Ranger District, with assistance from Pheasants Forever, recently wrapped up two months of seeding and mastication of juniper skeletons in the Trapper Creek drainage. Treatments occurred on land affected by the Badger Fire of 2020.
Stacy Tyler, a Fuels Management Specialist on the Minidoka Ranger District said, “A mastication treatment was originally planned in the Four Mile area north of Trapper Creek for the fall of 2020. However, the Badger Fire resulted in us shifting the treatment to the Trapper Creek area to address the glaring resource concerns caused by the fire.”
According to Tyler, “We were concerned about the area transitioning to an annual grass dominated state, so we first flew a native grass/forb/shrub mix over nearly 1,800 acres in late October. The other major concern we had in Trapper Creek was soil erosion, so we looked to the juniper skeleton mastication to mitigate those concerns. By dispersing woody material on the soil surface, we significantly reduce soil movement, and provide ideal microclimates for seed to germinate. We treated nearly 1,000 acres with mastication, so the landscape in the area certainly looks different and we expect a robust vegetation response from the treatment in the coming few growing seasons. The public should keep in mind that the overarching goals have been to restore habitat conditions for mule deer and sage grouse in the area. While the mild weather we have had recently was ideal for completing the mastication treatment, we really need snow over the project area now to ensure we get the seed to establish.”
Randy Thompson, District Ranger for the Minidoka Ranger District, noted the amazing help that partners have provided the Forest Service in the aftermath of the Badger Fire and noted, “It wouldn’t have been possible for the District to get the work done on this project on such a tight timeframe without our partners. Pheasants Forever and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) provided technical assistance on project layout and help with contracting. Idaho Department of Fish and Game provided funding to pay for some of the seeding cost, and funding from NRCS/Forest Service Joint Chiefs helped to pay for the mastication.  Additionally, NRCS, Pheasants Forever and the Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation worked with adjacent private landowners to treat the nearby private lands to maximize benefits to wildlife and post fire vegetation recovery in the area.
Thompson added, “moving forward we will focus on addressing the issues and concerns caused by the fire using a collaborative approach working with partners and stakeholders. Our goal is for this is to be just one of many successful partnership projects that we implement on the District to address post fire resource concerns.”
In the coming final weeks of January, sagebrush seed will also be flown on in important sage grouse habitat areas and on mule deer winter range in the Hudson Ridge, Dry Creek, and Rock Creek areas, totaling nearly 4,300 acres.
For further information about the ongoing management activities on the Badger Fire please contact Scott Soletti at the Minidoka Ranger District at (208)678-0430 or at scott.soletti@usda.gov.
This story was written and provided to Pheasants Forever by the Forest Service-Sawtooth NATIONAL FOREST