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Prescribed burns begin in northern Idaho forest

Prescribed burns begin in northern Idaho forest

Officials with the Panhandle National Forest say more than 4,800 acres will be set alight in prescribed burn projects starting soon.

Forest Public Affairs Officer Jason Kirchner told the Coeur d'Alene Press that hunters and campers should check the forest's website before heading into the forest in the five northernmost counties of Idaho.

The Forest Service uses prescribed burns to reduce dead and downed trees and to selectively thin understory trees in dense forested stands. The agency says fire can stimulate fire resistant plant species, enhance forage for animals and reduce the risk of large uncontrolled fires.

Once burn dates or date ranges are set, the information will be posted on the U.S. Forest Service website as well as on signs along access roads, near trailheads and trail junctions.

Hazardous trees shut down Beaver Creek Campground

Hazardous trees shut down Beaver Creek Campground

After announcing Monday that crews would be checking all campgrounds for hazardous trees, the Idaho Panhandle National Forest has decided to immediately close and evacuate Beaver Creek Campground on the north end of Priest Lake. Crews found more than 40 hazardous trees that pose a threat to visitor safety at the site.

 

“Closing a popular campground before a holiday weekend is a terribly difficult decision, but in this case there are too many dangerous trees to remove before the weekend, so closure is our only option to ensure a safe environment,” said Idaho Panhandle National Forest Supervisor Mary Farnsworth.

 

A wind storm on Sunday knocked a 200 foot tree onto to the tent of Sandpoint man killing him. Following the the incident, crews have been assessing the condition of developed recreation sites throughout the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. Many trees across various sites have been identified and removed, but Beaver Creek is the only campground they have decided to close.

Idaho Panhandle National Forest assessing trees following campsite death

Idaho Panhandle National Forest assessing trees following campsite death

A falling tree caused the death of a Sandpoint man who was camping at the Stagger Inn Campground in the Kanisku National Forest on Sunday night. A strong storm caused a 200 foot tree to fall onto the man's tent.

 

The 48-year-old man was found dead by the Pend Orville County Sheriff's Office around 11:30pm Sunday night. A 52-year-old woman was also injured by the falling tree and was treated for non-life threatening injuries.

 

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident at our campground and are making every effort to ensure that last's night storm damage has not left hazard trees in our developed recreation sites, “said Idaho Panhandle National Forest Supervisor Mary Farnsworth.

 

Rest easy Priest Lake campers, there's no mountain lion on Bartoo Island

Rest easy Priest Lake campers, there's no mountain lion on Bartoo Island

News release from the Idaho Panhandle National Forests:

On Monday, August 12, 2013, campers on Bartoo Island reported hearing and seeing what appeared to be  a mountain lion to the US Forest Service.  Bartoo Island, located on the Priest Lake Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests (IPNF), is one of seven islands on Priest Lake. The island consists of USFS campgrounds and privately owned land.

To ensure public safety, personnel from the IPNF partnered with Idaho Department of Fish and Game and responded to the report. The agencies coordinated with the Priest Lake Sportsman’s Association and volunteers to search the island early on the morning of August 14. The group used hounds to search for the mountain lion, but did not find any evidence that one had been on the island.

Lookout Pass expansion approved for environmental studies

Lookout Pass expansion approved for environmental studies

The first phase of a Lookout Pass expansion has finally been accepted for environmental impact studies. The plan was submitted in March 2010.

 

The U.S. Forest Service has accepted the plan that includes new chair lifts and runs at "Eagle Peak" on Runt Mountain that sits on the Idaho/Montana border. A consultant for the National Environmental Policy Act will conduct environmental impact studies of the expansion.

 

Lookout Pass CEO, Phil Edholm, told the Shoshone News Press last week that the studies will look at impact to soils, wildlife and hydrology. Depending on the outcome of the study, Phase I of the expansion could happen in the next few years.

 

Photo contest: We want your best pictures from the mountain!

Photo contest: We want your best pictures from the mountain!

 

With ski season entering its final stretch, we at KXLY want to see the awesome mountain photos you took of your friends and family shredding.

Send your best shots to news4@kxly.com (with the subject line: Photo contest), and the newsroom will vote on the best photo, which will be shown during Chief Meteorologist Kris Crocker's ski report on Friday's newscasts. We will put together a slideshow for the KXLY Communities sites, so even if you don't win, your work will still be showcased.

Make sure to include where you are, the name of the photographer, names of the people in the photo and your contact information so you can be reached for a short story.

So sift through those awesome stills of your loved ones dominating some pow-pow and send them in for a chance to be shown to the Inland Northwest.

Lucky Friday mine on track to reopen in early 2013

Lucky Friday mine on track to reopen in early 2013

Good news for the Silver Valley: Rehab work at the Lucky Friday silver mine is ahead of schedule.  Hecla Mining reports that the mine on pace to open in the first quarter of 2013.

The Silver Shaft closed back in January after federal inspectors order Hecla to remove built-up sand and concrete material.  The Mining Safety and Health Administration had conducted a series of inspections after a rock burst injured 7 miners in December, 2011.

The Silver Shaft, commissioned in 1983, is one mile deep and it's the primary access for the Lucky Friday mine.  The clean-up is expected to cost $20 million dollars and left more than 100 miners out of work.

"The current rehab work at Lucky Friday has exceeded our expectations and has been completed through the important 4,900-foot level," said Hecla President and CEO Phillips S. Baker, Jr.

20 miners were rehired and will return to work this month, in addition to 75 hourly employees already at work.  Hecla expects to be back to a full complement of 201 miners by the end of 2012, in anticipation of resuming operations in early 2013.