Forest Service releases Sawmill-Petty Environmental Assessment and asks for public input
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: September 4, 2020

HUSON– The Forest Service has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA), for the
Sawmill-Petty project which discloses the environmental effects of the proposed management
actions. The release of the EA initiates a 30-day public comment period. The project area is
located south of I-90, Alberton and Huson, MT in Sawmill, Reservoir, Petty, Peppard, Tank, and
Corral Creek drainages. The 64,400-acre analysis area also includes 14,400 acres of land
acquired since 2010 which require some decisions on management.
The purpose of the project is to reduce the risk of wildfire to communities and decrease the
potential for high-intensity wildfire and associated smoke; increase resilience to drought, insects
and disease; have a transportation system that supports the project, and meets public,
administrative, and fire response needs and accounts for resource concerns; and contributes to
the sustainable supply of timber from National Forest System lands.
“Management activities are planned to reduce the risk of wildfire to communities and decrease
the potential for high-intensity wildfire and associated smoke,” said Eric Tomasik, Ninemile
District Ranger. “These proposed actions would also provide better opportunities for firefighters
to engage future wildfires. We look forward to hearing what the public thinks of this analysis.”
Proposed management actions would work to improve forest health, reduce fuels, and
reintroduce fire on the landscape to create tree stands that are less susceptible to severe
wildfire, insect and disease outbreaks. To achieve this, the project proposes 6,000 acres of
commercial harvest which would favor the growth and retention of ponderosa pine and western
larch by retaining large, fire-tolerant trees. Non-commercial small tree thinning is proposed on
1,700 acres to increase the health of the mature trees by removing smaller competing conifers.
Additionally, the project proposes 13,070 acres of prescribed fire to reduce fuel accumulation
and slash and encourage the regeneration of forage.
The project also proposes roadwork including building some roads and largely adopting the
transportation system on the acquired lands, in addition to some road decommissioning, and
watershed restoration work including Petty Creek main stem restoration.
The proposed treatments in the Inventoried Roadless Area (IRA) adhere to the 2001 Roadless
Rule regulations. No road building would occur within an IRA and harvest only occurs in portions
of the IRA that previously had harvest, utilizing existing roads. The 467 acres of harvest and
1,754 acres of prescribed burning in the Garden Point IRA address fuels and forest health issues
and account for the movement patterns of past wildfires in the area.
Lolo National Forest
Web: https://www.fs.usda.gov/lolo
Facebook: @lolonationalforest
Twitter: @lolonf News Release
Media Contact: Kate Jerman
(970) 989-4454; (406) 552-7944
Katelyn.jerman@usda.gov
The project also includes changing Management Area (MA) allocation on approximately 7,076
acres as determined by site-specific data; and exempting some areas in the project from MA
standards related to big game cover. Big game would benefit from the increased forage from
treatments and cover would begin increasing again after treatment.
The EA is available upon request and is posted on the Lolo National Forest website:
www.fs.usda.gov/projects/lolo/landmanagement/projects.
How to Comment:
Comments will be accepted for 30 days following the date of publication of the legal notice in
the Missoulian on September 4, 2020. Pursuant to 36 CFR 218 and 219, only those submit timely
and specific written comments during this or another public comment period established by the
Responsible Official will be eligible to file an objection.
Please send comments to: Sawmill-Petty Project Leader, Missoula Ranger District, 24 Fort
Missoula Road, Missoula, Montana 59804. Comments may also be submitted electronically to:
comments-northern-lolo-ninemile@usda.gov.