A unique collaborative cross-agency effort and innovative multi-year environmental and recreational project
Forested lands in Blaine County have seen a significant increase in forest decline over the past two decades which has led to uncharacteristic fire risk in the area, contributing to the incidence of two large area wildfires (2007, 2013) circling Bald Mountain. The Bald Mountain Stewardship Project (BMSP) is an ambitious landscape-scale, multi-year plan to improve forest health, reduce fuels and associated fire risk, and preserve the recreational experience on and around Bald Mountain, home of the Sun Valley Ski Resort. This world-renowned recreational destination drives central Idaho’s economy and is the primary viewshed for the communities of Ketchum and Sun Valley.
The BMSP focuses on actions that improve forest health including the watershed and wildlife habitat, such as removing noxious weeds, stapling MCH packets (pictured above) throughout Baldy’s forest to deter insect infestations, and replanting trees to increase diversity.
Additionally, the BMSP aims to decrease fuels by targeting the removal of standing dead trees brought on by insects and disease to improve the overall resilience of the remaining healthy forest, decrease fire risk, and increase accessibility for emergency crews.
Fuel reduction projects like this provide a recreational benefit by improving safety for recreationists and opening up new terrain for gladed tree skiing previously inaccessible due to the amount of standing dead and downed trees. Skiers and boarders have enjoyed 93 acres of new gladed tree skiing opened in the past three years and will have another 65 acres to ski and ride next year in the Frenchman and Warm Springs areas of Baldy (pictured above)
For the past three years, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) and Sun Valley Company (SVC) have engaged a coalition of more than 60 individuals and organizations, including the United States Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and private landowners, to design and implement a plan to address declining forest health on Bald Mountain and surrounding areas.
This innovative landscape-scale, cross-boundary partnership between the community, government agencies, the SVC, and the NFF helped the BMSP win the highly sought-after funding available through the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Program. In summer 2022, $643,975 from this grant will be used toward forest health priorities in Blaine County with additional funding anticipated over the next two years for a three-year project investment totaling $2.5 million.
This is one example of the power of this unique collaboration; when paired with Sun Valley Company’s financial contributions, private donations can be significantly leveraged through the National Forest Foundation to unlock and further incentivize forest health treatments across ownership boundaries.
The National Forest Foundation’s Wood For Life program uses wood from forest restoration efforts to fuel Indigenous communities that rely on firewood to heat their homes. Wood for Life salvages small diameter timber removed in fire prevention efforts from the national forests and donates it to the Indigenous communities to assist in heating homes.
This year, the Bald Mountain Stewardship Project will supply 240 cords of firewood to the Shoshone-Paiute Tribe to heat the homes of many community elders living in Duck Valley where 90% of homes rely on a wood-burning stove as their primary home heating source. The 2022 efforts will also supply that same amount of firewood to the Shoshone Bannock Tribe at Fort Hall. Excess wood not going to the Wood for Life Program will be sold at a minimal price to support local markets and needs and proceeds from firewood sales will be reinvested into the Bald Mountain Stewardship Project in 2023.
Bald Mountain Stewardship Fund
The National Forest Foundation has a dedicated Bald Mountain Stewardship Fund to support ongoing work. When paired with Sun Valley Company’s financial contributions and through additional grant and federal opportunities, private donations to the Bald Mountain Stewardship fund are leveraged 5x through the National Forest Foundation. For more information or to contribute to the fund, please contact Dani Southard, email@example.com or 208.720.0957.