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Kootenai Forest officials announce road work, prescribed burns

by The Western News
| September 19, 2023 7:00 AM

Kootenai National Forest officials announced a number of projects this fall.

The first was scheduled to begin Monday, Sept. 18, with road repair work on Quartz Creek Road No. 600 in the Libby Ranger District. The work is planned between mile markers 2 and 4.

Work is planned to occur through Friday, Sept. 22, and again from Monday, Sept. 25 to Friday, Sept. 29 with intermittent road closures expected.

The maximum closure interval anticipated is one hour at a time.

For more information, please call the Libby Ranger District at 406-293-7773.

Forest officials are also planning to conduct prescribed fire projects when weather, fuel conditions and air quality become favorable.

Smoke may be visible from various places across the forest depending on the location of the burn units and weather conditions. Motorists are asked to drive carefully and slow down as smoke may impact nearby roads. Firefighters and equipment may be on or near these roads during implementation. There is the potential that residual smoke may be visible for several days after initial ignition.

Each project follows a prescribed fire burn plan. The prescribed fire projects are located and designed to be controlled to reduce the potential for adverse effects. These projects will comply with Montana air quality standards and be guided by the Montana/Idaho State Airshed Group to reduce the impacts of smoke to our neighbors, cooperators, and surrounding communities.

Forest-wide Pile Burning

These projects consist of pile burning at administrative sites, developed recreation sites, dispersed recreation sites and various other locations not shown on the attached map to reduce hazardous fuels created from snow breakage, windthrow, hazard tree removal, fire suppression operations and hazardous fuels reduction projects across the forest.

Libby Ranger District

  • East Reservoir Project – This project includes broadcast burning both timber harvest units and natural fuels units located within the Cripple Horse Creek and Dunn Creek drainages northeast of Libby. These treatments will use prescribed fire to create landscapes that are resilient to disturbance, improve wildlife habitat, and reduce hazardous fuels.
  • Miller West Fisher – This project includes broadcast burning natural fuels units located in the West Fisher and Miller Creek drainages southeast of Libby. These treatments will use prescribed fire to maintain the vigor and long-term productivity of forest stands, reduce hazardous fuels and restore natural fire regimes, maintain or improve watershed condition and maintain or improve grizzly bear and big game habitat.

Three Rivers Ranger District

  • Lower Yaak, O’Brien, Sheep Project – This project includes broadcast burning timber harvest units located within Kootenai Mountain area north of Troy. These treatments will use prescribed fire to promote resilient vegetation conditions, improve wildlife habitat and reduce hazardous fuels while reducing the potential for high intensity wildfire.
  • Starry Goat Project – This project includes broadcast burning timber harvest units and natural fuels units located within the Callahan and Star Creek drainages west of Troy. These treatments will use prescribed fire to promote resilient vegetation conditions, improve wildlife habitat and reduce hazardous fuels while reducing the potential for high intensity wildfire.

Cabinet Ranger District

  • Helwick Timber Sale – This project includes underburning in timber harvest units located within the Beaver Creek drainage south of Trout Creek. These treatments will use prescribed fire to reduce hazardous fuels within the wildland urban interface and other areas where values are at risk.
  • Elk Creek Wildlife Project and Elk Rice Timber Sale – These projects include broadcast burning both timber harvest units and landscape natural fuels units located within the Elk Creek drainage south of Heron. These treatments will use prescribed fire to create landscapes that are resilient to disturbance, improve wildlife habitat and reduce hazardous fuels within the wildland urban interface.
  • Purple Marten Project - This project includes broadcast burning timber harvest units in the Marten Creek drainage northwest of Trout Creek. These treatments will use prescribed fire to increase forage for big game species and reduce hazardous fuels.

Rexford/Fortine Ranger District

  • Galton Project – This project includes broadcast burning timber harvest units in the Fortine and Grave Creek vicinity. These treatments will use prescribed fire to reduce fuels within the wildland urban interface, improve wildlife habitat and re-introduce fire to forested ecosystems.

For more information about these projects, please contact the appropriate Ranger Station:

Cabinet Ranger District: (406) 827-3533

Libby Ranger District: (406) 293-7773

Rexford/Fortine Ranger District: (406) 296-2536

Three Rivers Ranger District: (406) 295-4693