The Lolo National Forest is working on the “Wildfire Adapted Missoula” project, “a risk-based strategic fuels management project. It proposes mechanized and non-mechanized fuel and vegetation treatments to reduce wildfire hazard and associated risk in strategic locations.”
Location Summary: Project surrounds the communities of Missoula, Lolo, East Missoula, Bonner, Clinton, and Turah (approx. 158,725 acres of National Forest System (NFS) lands).
IMHO, many areas in the west would benefit from risk-based strategic fuels management projects like this.With limited funding and staff, setting priorities is a must.
Excerpts from an article from the Missoula Current:
Compared to towns in California and Oregon, Missoula was lucky this summer not having any serious nearby wildfires. But with a warming climate, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when,” so the Lolo National Forest is proposing a large treatment project on the suburban forest to reduce wildfire risk in the Five Valleys region.
On Wednesday morning, on the upper part of the Blue Mountain Recreational Area, U.S. Forest Service silviculturist Sheryl Gunn walked along a dirt road pointing up at all the mistletoe infestations in the Douglas fir that grows thicker in the upper sections of forest.
“Where would wildfire hazard be high? It would be high in a place like this,” Gunn said. “We have this forested condition all around Missoula. This forested condition is what we saw in the Lolo Fire. When a fire gets into the crowns of this, nothing really survives. And so we see very, very, very intense fire.”
But not all the national forest land will be treated. That would take a lot of time and money. More importantly, it’s more effective to focus on areas of high risk. No point treating a fairly wet or previously burned area farther away from Missoula when there’s a heavily wooded spot right next to town.