MISSOULA, Mont. – The Missoula Ranger District is seeking public feedback on the Wildfire
Adapted Missoula (WAM) project located on National Forest system lands that surround the
communities of Missoula, Lolo, Grant Creek, East Missoula, Bonner, Clinton, and Turah (approx.
158,725 acres) in Missoula County. Wildfire Adapted Missoula is a risk-based strategic fuels
management project designed to implement the Missoula County Community Wildfire
Protection Plan (CWPP). The project proposes vegetation treatments which would reduce
wildfire risk in strategic locations where the risk is moderate to high and maintain areas where
the risk is low to moderate.
“The development of this project has been several years in the making and we are eager to
continue the public conversation about the landscapes we know are at high-risk and build upon
the work that we have already accomplished. Reducing wildfire risk to our communities,
restoring forest health and reintroducing regular prescribed fire onto the landscape is the focus
of this project,” said Jen Hensiek, Missoula District Ranger. “Our long-term vision is to encourage
landscapes and communities around Missoula to become fire-adapted or able to withstand
wildfire events in the future.”
The current condition in many areas within the project includes dense vegetation that has in
some cases been impacted by insects and disease, creating dead or weakened trees and fuel
conditions that increase wildfire risk in areas adjacent to communities. Additionally, these
conditions pose an elevated risk to firefighting response and emergency egress/ingress in these
areas. Some areas within the project have been treated in the past to reduce wildfire risk and
need to be maintained to continue to be effective.
To reduce wildfire risk and create areas where firefighters can engage, a combination of actions
are proposed including non-mechanized and mechanized wildfire risk reduction fuel treatments,
prescribed burning, and shaded fuel breaks. While no changes to public access are proposed,
this project includes road and trail proposals for project implementation, facilitating future first
responder access routes, and removing unneeded roads from the transportation system to
reduce undesirable resource impacts, maintenance costs, and impacts on watersheds.
The project objectives and proposed treatments align with action items in the Missoula County
Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) and the National Cohesive Wildland Fire
Management Strategy addressing the elements of forest resilience, fire adapted communities,
and safe and effective coordinated wildfire response. The CWPP includes a wildfire hazard risk
assessment which identified that a large portion of the project area falls within high
Lolo National Forest
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and very high risk of wildfire. Additionally, some lands encompassed within the WAM project
boundary are also considered priority treatment areas for the State of Montana’s Forest Action
Plan which was developed by stakeholders and tribal nations to reassess statewide forest
conditions and create a cross-boundary plan to accomplish landscape-scale forest restoration.
“Wildfire Adapted Missoula is an excellent example of a cross-boundary project that embodies
the collaborative spirit of the Montana Forest Action Plan,” said Wyatt Frampton, Montana
Forest Action Plan Project Manager with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and
Conservation. “By bringing together diverse partners, Wildfire Adapted Missoula will get more
work done on the ground to promote healthier, safer forests and reduce wildfire risk.”
By taking an all-lands approach and bringing landowners and stakeholders together to decide on
common goals, this effort aims to achieve long-term outcomes for the shared landscapes
around Missoula and complement work happening on adjacent private and partner lands.
Background: Targeted fuels reduction work has been ongoing within the WAM project boundary
for many years in the Marshall Woods, Pattee Canyon, and Grant Creek project areas. These
demonstration sites are actively working to reduce fuels and maintain previous treatments to
restore healthy forest conditions and provide areas for firefighters to engage. Public outreach
and collaboration have been a priority throughout the development of WAM. Last summer, the
Forest Service convened nine Learning Labs, or interactive conversations, with the Missoula
community and the help of the National Forest Foundation. The purpose of the Learning Labs
was to enhance community knowledge and understanding of wildfire risk and mitigation
Your Involvement: We would like to encourage your participation during our 30-day public
scoping process. This comment period provides those interested in or affected by this proposal
an opportunity to make their concerns known. Please provide your comments by Nov. 5, 2020.
Please submit written comments to Tami Paulsen, Planning Team Leader, Missoula Ranger
District, 24 Fort Missoula Road, Missoula, Montana, 59804. The office business hours for those
wishing to comment in person or by phone are: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, Monday – Friday, excluding
holidays (phone 406-329-3750). Comments may be faxed to (406) 329-1049. Electronic
comments should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information please visit the Lolo National Forest webpage or click this link to view and
interactive Wildfire Adapted Missoula Story Map