MISSOULA — As Spring begins, things are heating up in parts of Montana, leading the environment to dry out.
The Treasure Srare is on the cusp of fire season, and that means a window of opportunity to enact precautionary measures.
MTN News spoke with Lolo National Forest spokesman Dan Hottle to learn about how prescription burns are implemented to preserve forest health.
“Prescribed fires are fires that we light intentionally in our surrounding forests around Missoula County, and around our whole region and Montana, that help really just get the underbrush out of the forest,” Hottle said.
One prescribed burn is taking place three miles southeast of Missoula in the Crazy Canyon area.
Firefighters are intentionally setting the undergrowth on fire which effectively clears out materials like dead vegetation and pine needles.
“When you do a project like this, it really helps the resiliency of the forest,” Hottle explained.
The risk of leaving dry materials in forests unchecked is large.
If lightning strikes, a small fire in dry brush could carry flame to the tops of trees. If that happens during a hotter and drier summer, an entire forest might become consumed with a wildfire.
This is a concern for places like Missoula where homes are near heavily forested areas.
“As the forest service, yes we’re very concerned about the homes that are located in that wildland-urban interface,” Hottle explained.
Hottle emphasized the measures they take by timing prescribed burns to keep homes protected.
“To make sure the forests around them [houses] are as healthy as they can be, and that they have our attention and are being continually managed by us,” Hottle said.
No trail closures are in place at this time in the canyon, but the public is advised to be aware firefighters are working in the area.