MISSOULA – The damage from 2017’s wildfires has created opportunities in the off season as private landowners are looking to keep their property from being destroyed.
Zachary Bashoor’s young land management company found its niche helping private landowners mitigate their land around their homes, which helps create a defensible property in case of wildfire.
“When I get super excited I talk to them about like, ‘hey you have amazing trees, but there’s some stuff going on here that we could give them a better chance,'” Bashoor said.
In August, he joined the forest resource committee of the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce.
“After this wildfire season and getting involved with the resource committee, the Chamber and their board of directors, and the entire community has just shown such interest in why things are happening the way they are happening, and what the community can do about it because they are hurting,” he said.
The organizations’ recent State of Missoula banquet hosted researchers who discussed how to move forward from the economically devastating 2017 fire season.
“We don’t have a choice over eliminating the inevitable extreme wildfire. But we do have a choice, we do have a lot of opportunity, a lot of choice, over the characteristics of the immediate of our homes, and our immediate surroundings,” said Jack Cohen, retired U.S.F.S. research physical scientist from the Fire Science Laboratory.
Bashoor said he received calls this fall from private landowners with questions on how they can avoid property damage this upcoming summer.
“On these private lands where fire has been suppressed for almost a century, you have duff layers this deep,” indicating to over a foot of debris. “I’ve fought a few fires on some private lands and it is the worst thing ever digging into,” Bashoor said.
He is able to soften the expense mitigating overgrown land by selling some of the wood products from the project and finding grant money to pay for the work.
“I’m trying to be the link between private landowners, loggers, contractors, mills, and our forests. That’s my entire passion is just helping people create a healthy and sustainable relationship with our land, and their land, and meeting everyone’s objectives, while helping our forests,” Bashoor said.
Reporting by Augusta McDonnell for MTN News