The Lake County Conservation District has a creative idea for a 60,000-acre conservation forest in the Swan Valley.
This forest would be on federal land and managed by Montana state foresters. The idea is for fuel reduction and the sustainable growth and harvest of highly desirable trees.
There are many good reasons for this project.
- The fuel reduction would make for less volatility for fires. Common sense dictates that less trees with some area between them will burn with less intensity than the overgrown forests we have now. The fires now burning in Montana have or will burn hundreds of millions of board feet of timber and are killing and displacing hundreds of species of wildlife.
- The infernos created by these fires not only burns the vegetation and trees but can sterilize the soil. With no vegetation, except maybe some noxious weeds that are able to grow, the erosion into streams is extremely harmful to fish and wildlife.
- The tremendous fires that we have allowed to happen, by not harvesting a renewable resource, are chocking the air quality. There really is no chance to stop these fires until we get a weather event, better known as a snow storm. The amount of carbon and pollutants released from these fires in one day is equivalent to more than a year’s worth of pollutants from all other sources in Montana.
- There are a lot of trees around Montana that have been affected by insects and disease. They are now just proverbial “dead wood” that is waiting to become fuel for our next wildfire, destroying animal habitat, wildlife and our picturesque forests.
My hat is off to the Lake County Conservation District Board for advancing this discussion so that we can maybe create some positive solutions instead of waiting and hoping there is no “next fire.”
Sen. Dan Salomon
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