Timber practices on the reservation have changed greatly over the recent decades. The 2020 Willow Summit timber sale is a good example.
Natural Resources and Forestry reviewed the sale last week with Tribal Council. Some of their discussion illustrates how the forestry practices have changed, specifically how the allowable cut has by necessity been reduced.
The Willow Summit sale will be in the northwest area of the reservation, by Willow Springs and Summit Butte, the features that give their names to the sale, said Matt Jimenez, the tribes’ area forester.
The sale will involve about 26.5 million board feet of timber, with revenue going to the tribes’ general fund, including areas such as the Senior Pension, funded through such projects.
Forestry and Natural Resources began looking at the aspects of this sale back in 2018, Mr. Jimenez said. The inter-disciplinary team developed a target area of about 17,000 acres from which to develop the sale. Trees in the area are from plantings of decades ago, now coming within the harvestable inventory.
Over the past two years the team has developed a plan for mitigation of impacts to huckleberries, wildlife and fisheries, fire, etc.
Some of the discussion with Council showed how the reservation timber practice has seen a dramatic change: Most obviously, the 26.5 million board feet is within the sustainable level as determined by Natural Resources, Forestry and the committee. Sustainability means the harvest of timber is below the amount of the forest growth.
The board feet of the Willow Summit sale can be compared with sales of three decades ago, for instance, when the reservation allowable cut was more than 100 million board feet.
To ensure long-term reservation forest health, “It is getting harder to develop a sale,” Mr. Jimenez said, as sustainability now is a top priority of the tribal forest practice.