On Wednesday, the Lolo Creek Complex fire was named the nation’s Number 1 firefighting priority. Over the past few days the fire has made a number of good runs due to winds approaching 50 miles per hour and humidities in the teens. This has all been reported in the media.
What hasn’t been reported in the media at all is the fact that the majority of the acres burned to date as part of the Lolo Creek Complex fire have burned on lands owned and managed by Plum Creek Timber Company. Much of that Plum Creek Timber Company land has been heavily logged, roaded and infested with noxious weeds.
According to the official Inciweb report on the Lolo Creek Complex fire, to date the fire has burned 1,455 acres of the Lolo National Forest and 7,143 acres of private land. For what it’s worth, much of the Lolo National Forest land burned in this fire to date could also be characterized as heavily logged, roaded and infested with noxious weeds.
What Inciweb doesn’t tell us, or show, is that the vast majority of that private land burned to date in the fire is owned and managed by Plum Creek Timber Company.
To verify this fact I used the most current fire perimeter maps on Inciweb and then consulted with a tool called the Montana Cadastral, that I’ll sometimes use during hunting season to confirm land ownership. The Montana Cadastral is a Montana Base Map Service Center, which is a part of the Montana State Library. It provides the most up-to-date information concerning land ownership throughout Montana.
As anyone can clearly see using these tools, section after section of land owned and managed (mis-managed?) by Plum Creek Timber Company has burned as part of the Lolo Creek Complex fire. Currently, over 500 firefighters (and numerous helicopters, bull-dozers, tanker trucks, etc) are battling the fire. What the total cost of this fire to US Taxpayers will be is anyone’s guess. The total cost of all this fire suppression activity that will be paid for by Plum Creek Timber Company is likely a little easier to figure out.
Why the Montana media hasn’t utter one single word about the fact that the majority of land burning in this fire is owned and managed by Plum Creek Timber Company is a real mystery.
P.S. It’s also worth pointing out that another large chunk of the private land burned to date in the Lolo Creek Complex Fire is owned by Illinois-based Potomac Corporation. It’s tough to find info about them on-line, but they appear to be in the cardboard manufacturing business. Calls to their listed 847-259-0546 number have gone unanswered all day.