PLAINS, Mont.– The Forest Service is moving forward with implementation of the Swamp Eddy project on the Plains-Thompson Falls Ranger District located in Sanders County. The Swamp Eddy project was originally initiated in 2016 in response to concerns about hazardous fuel conditions and declining forest health; however, in 2017, part of the project area was impacted by the Sheep Gap Fire. Since then, the project area has been adjusted to address the remaining treatment needs for the unburned lands.
These unburned areas are still susceptible to stand-replacing wildfires, insects, disease and drought. The high number of trees per acre has created unhealthy forest conditions resulting in competitive stress for limited growing space, water, nutrients and sunlight. Additionally, there is an emerging outbreak of defoliator insects and fir engraver beetle within the project area that will result in tree mortality without treatment.
The Swamp Eddy project will improve these conditions by removing dense and insect-infested vegetation and selectively leaving tree species like ponderosa pine, western larch and western white pine which will promote vegetation diversity. By utilizing treatment methods such as prescribed burning, non-commercial vegetation treatments (thinning), and regeneration timber harvest, the existing tree stand will be replaced with a species composition and density that is more resilient to insects, disease and high-severity fire.
Merchantable timber harvested from this project will support the economic vitality of local communities. Additionally, the project will conduct road work and improve a dispersed recreation opportunity at the mouth of Swamp Creek on the Clark Fork River. This final decision will also amend the Lolo Forest Plan by adding approximately 527 acres to the suitable timber base – acres that were determined suitable for harvest and treatment through the analysis process of this project. Project implementation may begin as soon as spring of 2020.
For additional information please visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/lolo/ or call the Plains-Thompson Falls Ranger District at 406-826-3821.