Wildfire salvage projects underway

MISSOULA – 700,000 acres burned on National Forest land in this summer’s wildfires, and there are plans now in place proposing to salvage about 30,000 of those acres, according to Julia Altemus, executive director of the Montana Wood Products Association, who spoke in front of hundreds of business people on Tuesday.

The Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce event “Rising From the Ashes” was packed with people there to learn about the impact of 2017’s fires and how to prevent destruction in the future.

She says that the wood products industry is hoping to access timber that could be harvested this summer, as certain types of trees begin to lose their value over time.

“We’ve been working very closely with the Forest Service about the filters that they develop, as far as slope and intensity of the fire, and whether or not any of that timber is salvageable, are there roads, is it in a suitable base, is there a mill close by, so that they can take advantage of the timber,” she said.

Where the Rice Ridge Fire burned near Seeley Lake, thousands of acres are now proposed to be salvaged. Much of that fire burned on the Lolo National Forest, and some on the Flathead National Forest.

The Rice Ridge Salvage Harvest proposal project is now in its public comment period. The project is looking to harvest dead, dying and diseased timber on just over 4,800 acres.

In a statement, project managers also say they plan to cut down hazardous trees along roadways and plant tree seedlings.

You can submit comments up until Jan. 22 by contacting Tami Paulson, Team Leader, at 24 Fort Missoula Road, Missoula, Montana 59804 by mail.
You can call 406-329-1049, or email comments-northern-lolo-seeley-lake@fed.fs.us.

Reporting by Augusta McDonnell for MTN News