Flathead National Forest

Flathead National Forest Seeks Comments on Fuel Break Project
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: September 8, 2023

Kalispell, MT, September 7, 2023 — The Flathead National Forest is inviting the public to review and make comments on three proposed fuel breaks aimed at protecting communities and critical infrastructure from catastrophic wildfires.  The Ashley Lake, Good Creek, and Lion Hill fuel breaks are located on the Tally Lake and Hungry Horse Ranger Districts.

All three projects are located within the Wildland Urban Interface. The projects are utilizing Section 40806 in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to reduce hazardous fuels in strategic locations.  The law authorizes the construction of fuel breaks adjacent to existing features including roads, trails, powerlines, or similar infrastructure.

Shaded fuel breaks are linear control features that have been treated to moderate fire spread and intensity.  Treatments in the project areas would consist of thinning the understory along roads to reduce ladder fuels and tree densities while leaving mature overstory intact.  Mechanical, hand thinning, and prescribed burning may be used to reduce the vegetative fuel loads in the identified locations.  Each fuel break may have a maximum width of 1,000 feet.

These treatments are intended to facilitate fire remaining near the ground and not readily spread into tree crowns if a wildfire was to occur.  Fuel breaks also provide strategic access and defensible features for fire managers to utilize during a wildfire response while also reducing risk to firefighters on the ground.  Proactive fuels management, such as implementing these fuel breaks, increases wildland firefighters’ chances of success in controlling a wildfire that poses a threat to communities, private lands, and other values at risk.

Public comments specific to these projects are valuable in helping the Forest Service identify concerns and provide feedback. Comments are due by September 21st 2023.

To provide electronic comments and learn more about the Project, and to learn more about the Project’s location, purpose and need, and proposed actions, please visit the project website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/flathead/?project=64699. The “Get Connected” menu on the right side of the page provides an option to comment as well as an option to subscribe to email updates. Comments should include your name, address, telephone number and (if applicable) the name of the organization you represent.

If you wish to mail written comments, please address them to: Flathead National Forest, Attn: Gary Blazejewski – Flathead Fuel Break Project, PO Box 190340, Hungry Horse, MT 59919. Comments may also be hand delivered weekdays 8:00 am -4:30 pm at the Tally Lake and Hungry Horse District offices.

If you have questions, please contact Gary Blazejewski by telephone at 406-387-3827 or by email at gary.blazejewski@usda.gov.

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