GREAT FALLS – The area burned by the July Fire in Phillips County last summer will reopen for public use on May 11, according to a press release from the Bureau of Land Management.
The fire sparked in the area between Zortman and Landusky in early July, and scorched more than 11,000 acres. There were no serious injuries reported.
The area burned by the fire had been closed since September due to public safety concerns; fire had weakened roots and limbs on a significant amount of standing timber throughout the burned area.
“Many of the hazard trees that posed an imminent public safety threat have fallen over winter,” said Bureau of Land Management Malta Field Manager Tom Darrington.
Soils became unstable due to the weakened root structures. Emergency stabilization and rehabilitation efforts were initiated to reduce hazardous conditions and prevent soil erosion.
In critical areas, crews placed straw waddles and wood straw mulch. Certain areas were reseeded with a native seed mix.
“The landscape has experienced changes,” Darrington said. “There are a large number of downed trees throughout the area and within the trail system. There are also hazard trees that have yet to fall.”
“This is a place families, friends and neighbors like to recreate, hunt, gather wood and enjoy outdoor activities, so we did everything we could to reopen the area as soon as it was feasible,” Darrington added. “We recognize that this area will take years to fully recover, and we are encouraging people to exercise caution when recreating.”
The reopening applies to foot traffic and all forms of motorized and non-motorized travel, where normally permitted.
Reporting by David Sherman for MTN News