Plains, Mont., January 8th, 2023— The Forest Service invites the public to provide feedback on the Wilkes Cherry Project on the Plains/Thompson Ranger District, located south of Thompson Falls in Sanders County. This project includes a variety of management activities supporting vegetation, fuels reduction, road management, watershed improvement and recreation management on nearly 68,000 within the Wilkes Cherry and Cherry Creek drainages on the Lolo National Forest.
The project includes activities that aim to reduce fuels, restore vegetation conditions, update existing recreation facilities, maintain and approve aquatic native species habitat and watershed conditions, maintain a suitable transportation system and contribute wood products to the local and regional economy.
This project aligns with the USDA Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy that works with partners to protect communities and improve the resilience of America’s Forests. This crisis is being driven by declining forest health in the West, which is due to a combination of overgrown forests following a century of fire suppression and a warming climate with record-breaking drought.
“This project supports the Forest’s efforts to implement the Wildfire Crisis Strategy with activities designed to restore vegetation conditions that are resilient to natural disturbances and reduce the accumulation of fuels to moderate wildfire hazard, intensity and the potential to spread to nearby residents and the community of Thompson Falls,” said Dan Castillo, Acting District Ranger for the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District.
To help the Forest Service implement the Wildfire Crisis Strategy, the Secretary of Agriculture invoked the emergency authority, under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Section 40807), across 250 high risk firesheds in the western United States in early 2023. The law authorizes the Forest Service to take emergency actions to protect public health and safety, critical infrastructure, and natural resources on National Forest System lands from destructive wildfires. The Lolo National Forest contains nine of the highest risk firesheds in the nation, one of which is 241 Thompson where the Wilkes Cherry Project is located. The project area is also located within the Sanders County Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
The Lolo National Forest has requested approval from the Secretary of Agriculture to implement the Wilkes Cherry Project as an Emergency Action Determination project. Should the Secretary of Agriculture grant an Emergency Action Determination, this project will not be subject to the pre-decisional objection review process. The public is encouraged to provide feedback during the designated scoping and comment periods, as the public will not be able to raise additional project concerns during an objection period if the request is approved.
The public is invited to participate in the scoping period to help the agency determine what actions are needed, potential alternatives and potential issues.
Comments may be sent electronically by clicking the “Comment/Object on Project” button on the righthand side of the project webpage found here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=59163
Post mail and/or hand deliver by February 8, 2023, to:
ATTN: Wilkes Cherry
Plains/Thompson Ranger District
PO Box 429
Plains, MT 59859
Communications from the public regarding this project, including commenters’ names and contact information, will become part of the public record.
For more information or questions concerning the project, please contact Sean Ross McPherson McNearney at (406) 329-3731 or email@example.com.
For more information about the Lolo National Forest, please visit the website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/lolo or follow updates on Facebook and X.