If you visited Ponderosa State Park near McCall this summer, you might have noticed big changes to some of the forested areas off the park’s main road.
Large slash piles sit along the road and elsewhere in the park, and the forested area has been noticeably thinned.
It’s part of a large project by Idaho State Parks & Recreation aimed at restoration of the forest, to restore a balance of the park’s namesake ponderosa trees that officials say has changed with fire suppression techniques over the years.
The state says the project will remove mostly grand fir trees, which make up about 56% of the trees in the 90 acre Meadow Marsh II forest area.
Forest managers say ponderosa pines are naturally resistant to “periodic, low-intensity fires,” due to thick bark and high branches. But they say prior fire suppression techniques allowed “great numbers” of Grand fir trees to grow which could lead to a more catastrophic fire that could be “unnaturally severe.”
A similar project in the 1990s of another forest area in the park opened up the forest floor with less overgrowth and more prominent ponderosa trees according to park managers.
The project began last fall. The $1.3 million effort also upgraded water and electrical service in the Aspen Loop area and paved the road to the Osprey Point Overlook. Crews also revamped the Penisula Boat Ramp and tore down the old Kokanee Cove dining hall that was part of a former church camp on park ground.
The state says it hopes to recoup about $88,000 through the sale of some of the timber removed from the park.