The U.S. Forest Service owns and manages 20.4 million acres of national forest land in Idaho. Boise native Tom Tidwell, chief of the agency, says approximately 15 million acres, or roughly 75 percent of these lands, are overgrown and vulnerable to the risk of wildfire. This will come as no surprise to Idahoans who coped with a long, hot and smoky summer in which 1.7 million acres were charred by wildfires across the state, mostly on federal lands. Wildfires caused multiple road closures, disrupted business, harmed tourism and affected public health in Idaho.
Tidwell will talk to City Club about national Forest Service initiatives designed to address the backlog of ecosystem restoration activities, and the challenges associated with picking up the pace. Tidwell will also take questions from the audience.
When Tidwell visited Idaho last spring, he said the Forest Service needs to restore about 65 million to 82 million acres out of the agency's total land base of 193 million acres. At the current pace, the agency is treating 3.5 million acres per year. Global warming increases the pressure for accelerating restoration projects, the chief says. Tidwell also will touch on the agency's "collaborative" approach to bridging conflicts among user groups.
A 37-year employee with the Forest Service, Tidwell attended Capital High School in Boise before his family moved to Spokane, Wash. He earned a bachelor's degree in range science from Washington State University. He has served as a district ranger, forest supervisor, deputy regional forester and legislative affairs specialist in Washington D.C. He and his wife, Kim, have a daughter, MacKenzie.
Idaho Environmental Forum members who would like to attend this forum can do so at the City Club member price.