A prescribed burn of up to 2,400 acres is planned for the Cabinet Ranger District of the Kootenai Forest later this fall. The project is associated with the Minton-Trout Project, with the purpose of improving forage habitat for big game and to reduce hazardous fuels in the East Fork and West Fork Trout Creek, and Attlebury Creek drainages.
Ignition will be conducted by helicopter and will target heavy concentration of dead and down fuels. An area and trail closure will be in effect several days prior to ignition to ensure public safety.
Planned ignitions will only occur when weather and fuel conditions are optimal for achieving management objectives and when smoke impacts can be minimized for surrounding communities. All prescribed burns are approved in advance by the Montana-Idaho Airshed Group to ensure satisfactory levels of smoke dispersion.
A large smoke column is expected to be visible during the ignition phase. While autumn provides advantageous conditions for effective prescribed burning, forest officials warn that residual smoke may linger for days or weeks until dispersed by weather and precipitation. The greater part of the smoke column is expected to dissipate within a day or two following ignition.
A temporary trail and area closure will be implemented for public and firefighter safety during prescribed burn activities. The area closure will be rescinded when fire behavior is minimal or significant precipitation has occurred in the prescribed fire area. The temporary area closure will include the main stem, south branch, and west fork of Trout Creek. The temporary trail access closure will include Trail 774 from the Idaho border to the junction of Trail 795 and Trail 779 from the Idaho border to Trail 774.
According to the Kootenai Forest, prescribed fire is intended to mimic naturally occurring mixed severity fire processes, reducing accumulation of fuels and improving growing conditions. The prescribed fire treatments in the Trout Creek area are aimed at improving the quality, quantity, and distribution of forage for big game species. The treatments will also reduce the threat of an uncharacteristic wildfire through the consumption of hazardous fuels that accumulate overtime, the forest officials note.