The forest surrounding Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area
Many of the large conifer trees are plagued with dwarf mistletoe infection and Douglas-fir beetles. Scores of trees are already dead, left standing and ready to fall at anytime—threatening Bogus Basin's chairlifts, towers and mountain users.
"Due to ongoing incidence of tree mortality, a large number of standing dead trees are present in the Bogus Basin developed recreation area," stated the Boise National Forest in its Bogus Basin Forest Health Project
plan. "Large brooms (dense clumps of branches) on trees infected with dwarf mistletoe may fall, especially under the weight of heavy snow. These trees present a safety hazard to the public on alpine and Nordic ski trails and roads, as well as recreation facilities."
Standing dead trees are normal in any forest, but Boise National Forest officials state, "in recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of trees killed by dwarf mistletoe, Douglas-fir beetle and
Western bark beetle."
In 2007, the Forest Health Protection Department within the U.S. Forest Service reported Douglas-fir dwarf mistletoe infected almost 80 percent of all stands within the Bogus Basin area.
The seriousness of the forest's ill health came to a head two years ago, when Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter submitted a request to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, asking for landscape-scale treatments to national forests throughout Idaho.
Chief of the U.S. Forest Service Tom Tidwell gave Otter his blessing to treat the areas needing help because of the high risk of insect and disease mortality. Bogus Basin is one of 50 landscape areas throughout the state in need of heavy treatment.
A plan was crafted between the Boise Forest Coalition
—made up of citizens with a diverse set of perspectives on forest management—and the Boise National Forest.
is now up for review and the Boise Forest Service is seeking public comments
until Monday, April 11. An open house is set for Wednesday, March 16 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Boise Senior Center (690 Robbins Road) to educate the public on the forest health project.
The project focuses on 3,700 acres of Bogus Basin, which operates on a special use permit under the Boise National Forest, except for a small chunk of private land owned by the resort. It will encompass the thinning of 775 acres of Douglas-fir stands, 800 acres of ponderosa pine stands, hazard tree felling on 725 acres, prescribed burning and thinning of wildfire fuel on 2,828 acres, and fill-in planting of alternative tree species on almost 500 acres.
In order to complete the project, the Forest Service will need to build almost five miles of temporary roads and improve nine miles of ski area maintenance roads for commercial timber harvesting.
It will also focus on strategies to deter noxious weed growth, protect and enhance wildlife habitat, clear pathways for skiers and snowboarders in between runs, and coordinate with Ridge to Rivers for trail improvements.
According to the plan, "The desired condition for the proposed project is a healthy forest that facilitates and enhances public recreation and is resilient to natural disturbances such as insects, disease and wildfire."
Treatments are slated to begin in fall 2016 or summer 2017. Some treatments may need to be repeated every five to 10 years to continue removing dwarf mistletoe-infected trees and beetle-killed trees that pose a hazard on the ski resort.