The Flathead National Forest is planning to conduct spring prescribed fire projects when weather, fuel conditions and air quality are favorable, the U.S. Forest Service announced in a press release on Monday.
Smoke will be visible from various places in the Flathead Valley depending on the location of the burn units and weather conditions.
Each fire project follows a prescribed burn plan, with projects located and designed to be controlled to reduce the potential for adverse effects, or to escape as a wildland fire, according to forest officials. For precise prescribed fire ignition dates and times, visit the Flathead National Forest Facebook and Twitter pages.
The project areas include:
Swan Lake Ranger District
Louie Timber Sales – This project includes broadcast burning in timber harvest units located within the Blacktail Mountain area west of Lakeside and south of Kila. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, vegetation regeneration and wildlife habitat improvement.
How Now Timber Sale – This project includes broadcast burning in timber harvest units located on Sixmile Mountain, north of Swan Lake. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction and vegetation regeneration.
Swan Valley Bottom Maintenance Burning – This project includes maintenance broadcast burning in previously treated timber harvest units located within the Swan Valley. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, large ungulate winter range improvement, and improvement of forest health.
Pile Burning – Hand or machine piles within the Blacktail Mountain area, Swan Valley, Bigfork commnity and miscellaneous piles around the district as a result of, but not limited to: logging, hazardous fuels reduction in the wildland urban interface (WUI), hazard tree removal, and trail or road construction. These piles are burned to reduce the fuel loads in these areas. These piles are strategically burned based on their location, access, and weather conditions.
Tally Lake Ranger District:
Dateline 79/80, Swamp Rat 6, Salish Good GNA 67 – These roughly 118-acre projects will reduce timber harvest activity fuel loads, improve forest stand conditions, maintain, and improve terrestrial wildlife habitat, and help with site preparation for regeneration of early seral tree species that are more fire resilient.
Stovepipe 903 – This 116-acre unit located on the north side of Mountain Meadow Road on the west side of Flathead Valley is adjacent to private property and will be highly visible from Kalispell and the surrounding area. The intent is to improve wildfire control and reduce fuel within the WUI using prescribed fire. The area was previously thinned and has a high proportion of ponderosa pine which is a fire adapted/dependent tree species with a more frequent historical fire return interval. Ponderosa pine needles are much more combustible because of their larger size, resin content and arrangement than needles from other tree species like western larch and Douglas-fir. Burning this stand under more moderate spring conditions will reduce the amount of ponderosa pine needles and other fuel available to burn in a wildfire thus making wildfire control efforts easier and the stand of trees more likely to survive a wildland fire.
Oettiker 3 – This 96-acre unit is approximately 14 miles west of Whitefish near Star Meadow, and was previously burned in the spring of 2016. The maintenance burning will consume the dead fuel created from the initial 2016 prescribed fire. This area was identified as big game winter range so the prescribed fire will enhance winter range by increasing the amount vegetation available for big game foraging in addition to reducing fuel load in the WUI.
Burnt Grouse 2.0 – This 220-acre unit seven miles southwest of Olney in the Good Creek drainage was previously burned in the fall of 2014. Depending on weather and fuel conditions, crews may burn all or a portion of the unit this spring. In the event crews only burn a portion of the unit, the intent is to reduce concentrations of fuel along the top and eastside of the drainage. This area was identified as big game winter range so the prescribed fire will enhance winter range by increasing the amount vegetation available for big game foraging in addition to reducing fuel load in the WUI. Partial funding for the prescribed fire project is provided by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Hungry Horse/Glacier View Districts:
Royal Tiger Units 51/54/54A/55/57- Crews plan to utilize a combination of hand ignitions and unmanned aircraft system (UAS) ignitions with a plastic sphere dispenser (PSD) machine to burn 115 acres on steep slopes. The objective is to conduct a low intensity prescribed burn to achieve multiple objectives: (1) Reduce fire hazard (2) Prepare site for regeneration and (3) Create a more diverse mosaic of vegetation conditions.
Coram Pasture – Crews will utilize hand ignitions to burn Fields 1, 2, and 3 for a total of 17 acres. Coram Pasture is an administrative site used for pasturing agency livestock. The burning of the pastures in the spring will help remove dead residual forage, reduce brush and saplings and rejuvenate desirable grass and forage species for greater stock utilization. Burning rotations of field will increase productivity of the site and improve range conditions.
Hungry Horse Ranger Station – Crews will use hand ignitions to burn four units that are 3.5 total acres. These units are located on the ranger station administrative site. The objective is to remove fuel loadings and reduce risk to compound residences should a fire occur as well as introduce fire into Aspen stands to restore and simulate natural conditions.
Spotted Bear Ranger District:
Spotted Bear River Units E/M/N and Silver Mule Units 48/49 – This project area is located on the south end of Horse Ridge near the Spotted Bear Ranger StationCrews plan to hand ignite prescribed burns to blackline approximately 100 acres of Spotted Bear River units E, M, and N, creating a buffer for burning the rest of these units, adjacent units 50, 65, 66 and Silver Mule units 48, & 49 in the fall using aerial ignition. The low to moderate intensity prescribed fire will push back the conifer encroachment while retaining key thermal cover timber patches.
For more information about these projects, contact the appropriate ranger station:
Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger District: (406) 387-3800
Tally Lake Ranger District: (406) 758-5204
Swan Lake Ranger District: (406) 837-7500
Spotted Bear Ranger District: (406) 758-5376
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