Wednesday, October 27, 2021
48.0°F

Prescribed fires planned across Flathead National Forest

by STAFF REPORT
Staff Report | October 6, 2021 1:00 AM

Prescribed fires planned across Flathead National Forest

Prescribed burns will be conducted across the Flathead National Forest this fall when weather, fuel conditions and air quality permit, officials said Friday.

Smoke will be visible throughout the Flathead Valley. Forest officials said the projects are designed to improve wildlife habitat and reduce the risk of severe wildfire activity in the hotter months.

Each project will be carried out in coordination with the state Department of Environmental Quality to manage air quality risks.

Swan Lake Ranger District

Lindy Ridge prescribed burn: The objective of the prescribed fire is to treat 1,104 acres in and adjacent to the Mission Mountains Wilderness to reduce crown fire potential, decrease flame lengths and decrease spotting distance and, therefore, increase the probability that a natural ignition would stay within the wilderness boundary and fire could play its natural role on the landscape.

How Now timber sale: This project includes broadcast burning in timber harvest units located on Sixmile Mountain, north of Swan Lake. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction and vegetation regeneration.

Louie timber sale: This project includes broadcast burning in timber harvest units located within the Truman Creek drainage near Blacktail Mountain south of Kila and west of Lakeside. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, vegetation regeneration and wildlife habitat improvement.

Swan Valley bottom maintenance burning: This project includes maintenance broadcast burning in previously treated timber harvest units located within the Swan Valley. Specific locations include the Lion Creek drainage and the Meadow Creek area. These treatments will use prescribed fire to reduce fuels, improve large ungulate winter range and improve forest health.

Dewey Stewardship: This project includes broadcast burning in timber harvest units located within the Wild Bill drainage near Blacktail Mountain south of Kila. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, vegetation regeneration and wildlife habitat improvements.

Tally Lake Ranger District

Whitefish municipal watershed: Several of the five units available ranging in size from 36 to 268 acres will burn natural fuels to reduce the likelihood of crown fire, reduce stand density, improve mule deer and elk habitat, and prepare areas for planting of whitebark pine. Units will be selected based on conditions at the time of ignition. Aerial ignition will utilize a helicopter. The burn will be highly visible from Whitefish and the greater Flathead Valley.

Taylor Hellroaring: Three units available, ranging in size from 80 to 313 acres, will prescribe burn natural fuels to reduce likelihood of crown fire, reduce stand density, improve mule deer and elk habitat, and prepare areas for planting of whitebark pine. Units will be selected based on conditions at the time of ignition. Aerial ignition will utilize a helicopter. The burn will be highly visible from Whitefish and the greater Flathead Valley.

Griffin II Units 202 and 203 (Ashley Mountain): Two units available ranging in size from 159 to 325 acres will prescribe burn slash and natural fuels to reduce the likelihood of crown fire, reduce stand density, improve mule deer and elk habitat, and protect the Ashley Mountain communication site. Aerial ignition may be utilized by helicopter. The burn will be highly visible from Kalispell, Marion and Ashley Lake.

Hungry Horse Ranger District

Red Whale fuels reduction: Approximately 750 acres will be targeted for prescribed burning this fall in Moose and Moran creeks. This project location is in the North Fork of the Flathead about 4 miles northwest of Polebridge. Depending on weather this burn is planned for mid to late September to early October. The purpose of this project is to help restore a more historical fire regime to the ecosystem, improve wildlife habitat and reduce hazardous fuels to reduce wildfire risk and aid in potential future fire suppression efforts, and improve wildlife habitat.

Belton: This prescribed fire project targets five units totaling 916 acres. The project is designed to restore fire to the ecosystem and remove dead and down fuels while reducing conifer encroachment in openings to improve wildlife habitat. The units are located west of, and adjacent to, the northernmost portion of the Great Bear Wilderness near West Glacier.

Coram Pasture administrative site: This burn is located at a Forest Service administrative site near Martin City, used for pasturing agency livestock. Up to 15 acres of livestock pasture would be burned to rejuvenate the grass and remove encroaching conifers.

Betty Baptiste: This project consists of approximately 352 acres in three units of high-elevation prescribed fire near Baptiste lookout. The prescribed fire treatments are designed to mimic the effects of a wildfire by diversifying stand density and structure.

Liger 41/41S: Roughly 37 acres of understory burning will occur on Forest Service Road No. 38 near the Emery Bay campground. The purpose of this burn will be to reduce fire hazard and prepare the site for regeneration.

Spotted Bear Ranger District

Spotted Bear River, Spotted Bear Fuels, Silver Mule and Tin Mule: These units around the Spotted Bear Ranger Station are being prescribed burned to reduce fuel loading, maintain and increase winter range forage, and reintroduce fire into the ecosystem. Most units are a mix of grassy openings, shrub fields and timber patches. The objective is to reduce conifer encroachment while retaining key thermal cover timber patches.