Flathead National Forest Fall Prescribed Fire Projects
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: August 31, 2020

The Flathead National Forest is planning to conduct fall prescribed fire projects when weather, fuel conditions, and air quality become favorable.  Smoke will be visible from various places in the Flathead Valley depending on the location of the burn units and weather conditions. 

 

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, or to escape as a wildland fire.  The projects will follow Montana air quality standards and are coordinated with Montana State Department of Environmental Quality to reduce the impacts of smoke to neighbors, cooperators, and surrounding communities.

The project areas include:

Pile burning: On the attached map major locations of concentrated piles are identified.  These may include both landing and hand piles.  There are also scattered piles not identified on the map which may also be burned.

Swan Lake Ranger District:

 

Lindy Ridge & Swan Flats 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 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. More information will be forthcoming as the window of opportunity approaches.

 

Huey Timber Sale – This project includes broadcast burning in timber harvest units located within the Stoner Creek drainage near Blacktail Mountain west of Lakeside, MT. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, vegetation regeneration, and wildlife habitat improvement.

 

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

Dewey Timber Sale – This project includes broadcast burning in timber harvest units located within the Truman Creek and Wild Bill drainages near Blacktail Mountain south of Kila, MT and west of Lakeside, MT.  These treatments will use prescribe fire for fuels reduction, and vegetation regeneration.

How Now Timber Sale – This project includes broadcast burning in timber harvest units located on Six Mile Mountain north of Swan Lake, MT and southeast of Bigfork, MT.  These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, improve forest health, and vegetation regeneration.

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 Meadow Creek area. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, large ungulate winter range improvement, and improve forest health.

Tally Lake Ranger District:

 

Whitefish Municipal Watershed – Several of the five units available ranging in size from 36-268 acres will prescribe burn natural fuels to reduce the likelihood of crown fire, reduce stand density, improve mule deer and elk habitat, and prepare areas for white bark pine planting.  Units will be selected based on conditions at the time of ignition.  Aerial ignition will use a helicopter.  The burn will be highly visible from Whitefish and the greater Flathead Valley.  More information will be forthcoming as the window of opportunity approaches.  202 acres of activity piles are also planned to be burned in the Haskill Basin area this fall.

Martin-Radnor Unit 64 – 17-acre activity fuels hand ignited understory burn in the Wildland Urban Interface west of Olney with retention of mature Larch and natural regeneration.  112 acres of activity hand and machine piles are also planned to be burned this fall.

Griffin – 200-485 acres of natural fuels are planned to be burned this fall with a combination of hand and aerial ignition to reduce natural fuels and likelihood of crown fire, reduce stand density, improve mule deer habitat and protect Ashely Mountain communications site.  398 acres of activity piles are also planned to be burned in the Griffin Creek drainage this fall.

Taylor Hellroaring – 80 acres of natural fuels are planned to be burned this fall with a combination of hand and aerial ignition to reduce natural fuels and likelihood of crown fire, reduce stand density, improve mule deer habitat and prepare areas for white bark pine planting.  The burn will be highly visible from Whitefish and the greater Flathead Valley.  More information will be forthcoming as the window of opportunity approaches.

Holbrook – 140 acres of hand piles are planned to be burned this fall along Big Mountain Road north of Whitefish and will be visible from Whitefish and the greater Flathead Valley.

Hungry Horse Ranger District:

 

Red Whale RX— A 750-acre project is planned in the Red Whale Creek Drainage in the North Fork region 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 wildfire efforts.

Betty Baptiste Rx – This project consists of approximately 400 acres in four units of high elevation prescribed fire near Baptiste lookout.

 

Belton Rx— 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.

 

Middle Fork Fuels Rx—This burn targets approximately 622 acres in four units.  The prescribed fire treatments are designed to target the shrub-dominated areas with the objective of reducing conifer encroachment, rejuvenating wildlife browse, creating a diverse mosaic of vegetation conditions across the landscape, and reducing fuel accumulations.

 

Coram Pasture RX – 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.  Five acres of hand piles will also likely be treated.

Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger District hand piles and landing piles include:

Hungry Lion Timber Sale (Abbot Basin, Liger, Royal Tiger) Landing piles and hand piles near Martin City, Coram and Emery Bay will be treated.

Crystal Cedar Fuels Reduction – Ten acres of hand piles north of Columbia Falls and 20 acres of hand piles along the North Fork Road will be treated.

Hungry Horse Administrative site – Five acres of hand piles adjacent to the Ranger Station.

North Fork Road – Five acres of hand piles near the Big Creek work center.

Slippery Bill TS – Five acres of machine and landing piles from logging near Nyack flats.

Spotted Bear Ranger District:

 

The units listed below 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.

Aerial Ignition – Spotted Bear River Units E, M, N 50, 65, & 66 and Silver Mule units 48 & 49 – 515 acres

Hand Ignition – Silver Mule Units 44, 45, 46, 53, 71, 71A, 75, & 77 Tin Mule Unit 54 and Spotted Bear Fuels Unit 6, G & H – 207 acres total.

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

Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger District: 406-387-3800

Tally Lake Ranger District: 406-758-5204

Swan Lake Ranger District: 406-837-7500

Spotted Bear Ranger District: 406-758-5376

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more information about highly visible prescribed fire ignition dates:  https://www.facebook.com/discovertheflathead and https://twitter.com/FlatheadNF.  General forest information can be found online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/flathead.