victor idaho

7

Linn Ranch Stewardship Project 

Bill and Bob were the original “horse power” behind Peter Linn’s stewardship operation.  Now he uses his “mini me,” a small excavator, to harvest and haul diseased and overgrown timber to his mill. In the mill, Linn converts the raw forest material to lumber and other building materials, which he uses to construct cabins, tack sheds and other necessities for his dude ranch located in Victor, Idaho. 

Stewardship projects by definition allow the BLM to work with individuals to accomplish different goals; the BLM will benefit from a service and the individual conducting the project receives a direct benefit, in this case, timber.  In essence these contracts allow private companies, community members and others who choose to pursue these contracts to retain the forest and/or rangeland products in exchange for the service to the BLM such as thinning.

“The purpose of this [stewardship project] is to decrease hazardous fuel loading in the area, improve overall stand health, improve wildlife habitat, produce forest products, and stimulate the aspen component of the stand,” said Channing Swan, forester for the BLM Pocatello Field Office (FO).

The removal of trees assists in fire prevention and also mimics historical fire patterns. Historical data show that these forests were dominated by large douglas-fir that had thick, fire-resistant bark and stands of aspen. Aspen is an important source of food and habitat for wildlife. It also regenerates quickly after fire and tend to act as a natural fuel break. Without historical fire regimes, douglas-fir slowly shades out the aspen. By removing the douglas-fir, we mimic the role fire naturally played in the ecosystem, encouraging aspen regeneration.  The resulting forest is a more fire resilient, park-like setting of larger diameter firs, interspersed with patches of aspen

The removal of timber not only assists in fire prevention but it also improves the health and vigor of aspen and conifer alike. An influx in conifer trees increases the potential of infection from beetles and mistletoe, which are two of the most common diseases impacting this area. “The beetle bores into the tree leaving behind a tunnel in the xylem and/or phloem (interior) that essentially ruins the trees ability to gather nutrients or water,” said Eric Ott, Pocatello FO forestry technician. “By thinning the area, we are able to reduce some of the beetles’ ability to travel and destroy other trees.”

Linn has been involved with the project and BLM since the timber sales stewardship contract was signed September 30, 2008. The stewardship contract has been ongoing for five years allowing Linn to work throughout the winter while maintaining his busy ranch during the summer.  

Linn is contracted for 31 acres of service work (the small diameter thinning). Typically the BLM would pay a contractor a certain amount per acre depending on the project to remove the timber. In this case, Linn actually ends up paying the BLM a small amount of money for the entire contract.  “A stewardship project is a great tool in our toolbox,” said Swan. “It allows us to use a variety of resources to accomplish our goals.”

-Sarah Wheeler