SEELEY LAKE, Mont. – The Forest Service invites the public to participate in a virtual
meeting on Thursday, Oct. 15 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The goal of this meeting will
be to share information and gather input about the Westside Bypass Wildfire Resiliency
Project on the Seeley Lake Ranger District.
The project is located north and northwest of Seeley Lake in Missoula County and
focuses on improving forest health and hazardous fuel conditions that have increased
the concern of severe wildfire and future insect and disease impacts.
“Given the fire season impacts from 2007 and 2017, the Westside Bypass project
presents one of the remaining areas with the highest risk of wildfire for the community
of Seeley Lake. This is an area of dense fuel accumulation nearby private land and
neighborhoods,” said Quinn Carver, Seeley Lake District Ranger. “We are finalizing the
development of this project and we would like to talk with the public to hear and
understand what they think is needed in this area.”
The proposal would use both commercial and non-commercial vegetation treatments
on approximately 2,700 acres to reduce vegetation, ladder fuels and dead and down
trees within the project area creating healthier forest conditions.
Dense ladder fuels, such as tree limbs and understory, increase wildfire risk by creating
conditions that allow a ground fire to move into the tree canopy becoming a ‘crown’
fire. Crown fires decrease the ability for firefighters to engage with a wildfire effectively.
The proposed treatments would reduce ladder fuels by cutting and piling small
diameter, understory trees and burning them.
Additionally, there is a high concentration of dead and down trees within the project
area which is the result of past insect outbreaks. In priority areas and within commercial
harvesting units, these pockets of dense woody material will be reduced through
mulching, pile burning, jackpot burning, and/or underburning.
Commercial harvesting within the project area would improve forest structure by
opening the canopy to reduce the risk of a crown-running fire. This will also reduce the
Lolo National Forest
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risk of insect and disease impacts and promote fire-resistant tree species, such as
western larch and hardwoods.
During the virtual public meeting, District Ranger, Quinn Carver, partners from the
Montana Department of Natural Resources, and resource specialists will present the
current fuels and forest conditions and possible management activities to address the
concerns within the project area. Questions regarding the project and input provided
during this public meeting will help the team finalize the project proposal. An additional
opportunity to submit written comments will be provided when the project is released
for a 30-day scoping period following this meeting.
To learn more about participating in the public meeting through Adobe Connect or via
phone, please visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/lolo/wsbypass, or you can email/call
Elizabeth Tichner, team leader, at Elizabeth.Tichner@usda.gov or 304-282-4064.