National Fire Plan Success Story
Snow Peak Wildlife Management Area
St. Joe Ranger District, Idaho Panhandle National Forests, Idaho
Collins Tooth Fire (WFU) 2006
The Idaho Panhandle National Forest (IPNF) and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) have developed a cooperative management program to jointly manage the Snow Peak Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in the south-central portion of the St. Joe Ranger District. The WMA is a "checker board" of mixed national forest and IDFG lands which are primarily unroaded and remote. The mixed conifer forests here burned in the 1910 fires and reburned in 1926.
The Cooperative Management Plan advocates fire use of both planned (prescribed fire) and natural (wildland fire use) ignitions to "promote and enhance the wildlife values of the WMA" providing that a "natural fire plan prescription is cooperatively prepared by both agencies." The St. Joe Wildland Fire Use Guidebook was prepared and successfully implemented in 2006 for national forest lands that lie directly south and east of the WMA.
The Forest Service has the responsibility to provide fire protection to IDFG land within the Snow Peak WMA as described in the statewide Idaho Cooperative Fire Protection Agreement. The Forest Service, as the sole protecting agency, will manage all candidate fires occurring in the WMA, including those originating on IDFG lands, in accordance with direction found in Idaho State Code Title 38 and federal fire management policies and procedures.
During summer 2006, seven ignitions occurred that were wildland fire use (WFU) candidates. Four of these candidate fires were deemed unwanted and therefore, suppressed (two were suppressed because the ignitions occurred too close to the boundary of the approved fire use area and the Snow Peak WMA). However, three of the fires were successfully managed for resource benefits.
The IPNF and IDFG chose to pursue the "wildland fire-use" option for the Snow Peak WMA in preparation for the summer fire season of 2007. Mutual objectives of agencies included management of naturally ignited wildland fires that met prescription parameters of the IPNF Fire Management Plan, and could be managed as WFU fires to achieve resource objectives across jurisdictional boundaries. This was the first time in Idaho State that wildland fire use was available as a management option on IDFG lands within the Snow Peak WMA. There were three candidate ignitions within the WMA in 2007 but all three ignitions were suppressed because of their proximity to the WMA boundary. Even so, the assessment process operated as intended and although no ignitions were managed under a WFU response in 2007, cooperative fire management within the Snow Peak WMA was deemed a success.
Contact: Chuck Mark, St. Joe District Ranger (208) 245-6001