The Forest Supervisor for the Lolo National Forest has signed the decision for the Soldier-Butler project, authorizing fuels and forest health treatments, road activities, and watershed improvements across 9, 975 acres of land on the Ninemile Ranger District located in Missoula County, approximately seven miles northwest of Huson, MT.
“We are pleased to move forward with the implementation of the Soldier-Butler project which will address fuels treatment in areas identified as at-risk by the local Community Wildfire Protection Plan,” said Eric Tomasik, Ninemile District Ranger. “This project will decrease the potential for large, high-intensity wildfire and associated smoke, and will enhance firefighting effectiveness, and public and firefighter safety.”
Less frequent fire return intervals and past forestry management practices have resulted in an unnatural accumulation of fuels and large continuous areas of dense vegetation. Thinning and prescribed fire will maintain and restore more open mature forests as part of the mosaic of vegetation and habitat, moving the area closer to what would have occurred naturally. Treatments will also decrease the potential for large fire events and crown fires by treating surface fuel loads and ladder fuels that contribute to fire spread in the tree canopy.
The project is designed to increase forest resilience to withstand and adapt to disturbances such as wildfire, insects, drought and disease. The treatments will favor the growth and retention of ponderosa pine and western larch, and retain large, fire-tolerant trees.
Additionally, three miles of road construction will facilitate fuels and forest health treatments, increase firefighting effectiveness adjacent to private land, and improve ingress and egress for public and firefighter safety.
The project complements other fuels and forest health work in the area, reducing wildfire risk to infrastructure, adjacent communities and private property.
For more information visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/lolo, or call the Ninemile Ranger District at 406-626-5201.