Public Comment Sought for Western Larch Cone Collection Project

By Beacon Staff

The Flathead National Forest is seeking public comment about a proposed collection of western larch cones in an effort to meet anticipated reforestation needs. Trees would need to be felled because of the inherent safety concerns of climbing larch trees, according to a FNF release. About 270 trees would need to be felled over a 10-year span to meet current anticipated needs. Cone collection will be focused in existing timber sale areas.

Comments and concerns regarding this project are being taken until April 16. Send feedback to the project leader, Marsha Moore, at 758-5325, [email protected], or to Flathead National Forest, 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, MT 59901.

To maximize cone production and minimize the amount of tree mortality, larger diameter trees are preferred. Trees selected for cone collection would not be older than 200 years.

After cones are collected, the felled trees would remain on site. Seed requirements may be met with fewer trees depending on crop abundance.

Shooting cone-bearing branches off trees to collect the cones is another method used for cone collection. This method is time consuming and is not deemed to be an efficient way of collecting larch cones within the short harvest period.

Cone collection could occur in other areas on the Flathead National Forest where adequate crops are identified.

“The amount of seed currently on hand is well below levels necessary to meet our planting needs,” Melissa Jenkins, forest silviculturist for the Flathead Forest, said in a news release.

“In Montana, we need to capture larch seed when a sufficient cone crop does occur. It is likely that cone harvest wouldn’t occur in some years due to the sporadic seed cycles of larch.”

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