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Flathead National Forest planning prescribed burns

Prescribed Fire
Posted at 2:11 PM, Oct 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-04 16:11:39-04

KALISPELL — The Flathead National Forest is planning to conduct fall prescribed fire projects when weather, fuel conditions, and air quality become favorable.

Smoke will be visible from various places in the Flathead Valley depending on the location of the burn units and weather conditions.

Each project follows a prescribed fire burn plan. The prescribed fire projects are located and designed to be controlled to reduce the potential for adverse effects or to escape as a wildland fire, according to a news release.

The project areas include:

Swan Lake Ranger District: 

  • Lindy Ridge Prescribed Burn - The objective of the prescribed fire is to treat 1,104 acres in and adjacent to the Mission Mountains Wilderness to reduce crown fire potential, decrease flame lengths, and decrease spotting distance and, therefore, increase the probability that a natural ignition would stay within the wilderness boundary and fire could play its natural role on the landscape.
  • How Now Timber Sale – This project includes broadcast burning in timber harvest units located on Sixmile Mountain, North of Swan Lake, MT. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, and vegetation regeneration.
  • Louie Timber Sale - This project includes broadcast burning in timber harvest units located within the Truman Creek drainage near Blacktail Mountain south of Kila, MT and west of Lakeside, MT. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, vegetation regeneration, and wildlife habitat improvement.
  • Swan Valley Bottom Maintenance Burning – This project includes maintenance broadcast burning in previously treated timber harvest units located within the Swan Valley. Specific locations include the Lion Creek Drainage, and Meadow Creek area. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, large ungulate winter range improvement, and improve forest health.
  • Dewey Stewardship – This project includes broadcast burning in timber harvest units located within the Wild Bill drainage near Blacktail Mountain south of Kila, MT. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, vegetation regeneration, and wildlife habitat improvements

Tally Lake Ranger District: 

  • Whitefish Municipal Watershed – Several of the five units available ranging in size from 36-268 acres will prescribe burn natural fuels to reduce likelihood of crown fire, reduce stand density, improve mule deer and elk habitat, and prepare areas for planting of whitebark pine. Units will be selected based on conditions at the time of ignition. Aerial ignition will utilize a helicopter. The burn will be highly visible from Whitefish and the greater Flathead Valley.
  • Taylor Hellroaring – Three units available ranging in size from 80-313 acres will prescribe burn natural fuels to reduce likelihood of crown fire, reduce stand density, improve mule deer and elk habitat, and prepare areas for planting of White Bark pine. Units will be selected based on conditions at the time of ignition. Aerial ignition will utilize a helicopter. The burn will be highly visible from Whitefish and the greater Flathead Valley.
  • Griffin II Units 202 & 203 (Ashley Mountain) – Two units available ranging in size from 159-325 acres will prescribe burn slash and natural fuels to reduce the likelihood of crown fire, reduce stand density, improve mule deer and elk habitat, and protect the Ashley Mountain communication site. Aerial ignition may be utilized by helicopter. The burn will be highly visible from Kalispell, Marion, and Ashley Lake.

Hungry Horse District: 

  • Red Whale Fuels Reduction - Approximately 750 acres will be targeted for prescribed burning this fall in Moose creek and Moran creek. This project location is in the North Fork of the Flathead about four miles northwest of Polebridge. Depending on weather this burn is planned for mid to late September to early October. The purpose of this project is to help restore a more historical fire regime to the ecosystem, improve wildlife habitat and reduce hazardous fuels to reduce wildfire risk and aid in potential future fire suppression efforts, and improve wildlife habitat.
  • Belton - This prescribed fire project targets five units totaling 916 acres. The project is designed to restore fire to the ecosystem and remove dead and down fuels while reducing conifer encroachment in openings to improve wildlife habitat. The units are located west of, and adjacent to, the northernmost portion of the Great Bear Wilderness near West Glacier.
  • Coram Pasture Administrative site – This burn is located at a Forest Service administrative site near Martin City, used for pasturing agency livestock. Up to 15 acres of livestock pasture would be burned to rejuvenate the grass and remove encroaching conifers.
  • Betty Baptiste - This project consists of approximately 352 acres in three units of high elevation prescribed fire near Baptiste lookout. The prescribed fire treatments are designed to mimic the effects of a wildfire by diversifying stand density and structure.
  • Liger 41/41S – Roughly 37 acres of understory burning will occur FS road 38 near Emery Bay campground. The purpose of this burn will be to reduce fire hazard and to prepare the site for regeneration.

Spotted Bear Ranger District: 

  • Spotted Bear River, Spotted Bear Fuels, Silver Mule, and Tin Mule - These units around the Spotted Bear Ranger Station are being prescribed burned to reduce fuel loading, maintain and increase winter range forage, and reintroduce fire into the ecosystem. Most units are a mix of grassy openings, shrub fields and timber patches. The objective is to reduce conifer encroachment while retaining key thermal cover timber patches.

Contact the appropriate Ranger Station for more information about these projects:  

  • Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger District: (406) 387-3800
  • Tally Lake Ranger District: (406) 758-5204
  • Swan Lake Ranger District: (406) 837-7500
  • Spotted Bear Ranger District: (406) 758-5376