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County commissioners meet with Forest Service representatives

POMEROY–The Garfield County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) met with United States Forest Service representatives of the Pomeroy Ranger District and Umatilla National Forest, discussed an opioid settlement through the Opioid Abatement Council, and announced an opening on the board of adjustment at their meeting on February 6.

Susan Piper, Pomeroy District Ranger, discussed the USFS projects planned for 2023 and 2024. Many of these were affected by the record fire season in 2021, particularly by the Lick Creek and Green Ridge fires. The Lick Creek and Green Ridge Fire Recovery project is planned to reforest 2,000 acres on Charlie Creek, Hardy, and Sheep Creek. The requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) have already been met and the project is scheduled to happen in 2023. An additional 2,000 acres are being planned for reforestation in 2024.

Also discussed was some controversy surrounding the Misery shelter. Nez Perce tribal resources have been impacted and are expected to be further impacted by use of equipment at the shelter. The proposed solution of raising the cabin with timbers is being discussed with the Nez Perce Tribe, and planned to be discussed with the snowmobiling group Mt. Misery Snowdrifters as well.

A salvage project that was put out to bid had no takers, and will be reorganized into a service contract. The first priority will be felling and salvage of burned trees and those affected by delayed mortality along the main forest roads. The secondary priority will be along the one and two roads, which salvage may be commercial.

Ranger Piper also stated she is expecting another mushroom season this spring, but not at the volume of last year's season.

Commissioner Justin Dixon expressed his concern over the current limitation of off-road vehicle use in the Umatilla National Forest. He stated that Idaho residents are being turned away from recreation activities here because they can't ride in the forest the way they can in Idaho. He said he "would like to see a focus on continuity."

The BOCC discussed an opioid settlement through the Opioid Abatement Council. Garfield County's portion totals .03% of the total settlement. The County will receive $69,262.17 over the period of 17 years. The yearly amount will be approximately $4,000, received monthly. The funds must be spent according to a Council-approved spending plan and recorded annually.

Also discussed was an opening on the board of adjustment, the entity responsible for reviewing and deciding variance applications. The new member will be appointed by the county commissioners. No name was put forward at the time.

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