KALISPELL — A 17-acre prescribed burn has been proposed at Lone Pine State Park in Kalispell to benefit native habitat from seedlings gradually overtaking the area.
“Just an important role for forestry management is to allow that natural fire cycle to play its role when it can, obviously when it’s safe and it’s going to be effective,” said Montana, Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) spokesman Dillon Tabish.
Fire plays an important natural role in landscapes benefiting native grassland in Northwest Montana with Tabish noting Lone Pine State Park in Kalispell is long overdue for a fire cycle.
“We have aerial photos that look back to the 1940s and 1950s and you see a much different landscape than you see today. And that’s due to that park obviously not allowing fire to come through and help play its natural role in the environment,” said Tabish.
Tabish said the proposed 17-acre burn would take place in the western portion of the park, restoring native grassland that wildlife and plant habitat badly need to survive.
“And so, we hope that this prescribed fire will help benefit those native grasslands, the other native plants and species that are just being encroached upon,” added Tabish.
He told MTN News the fire would be grant-funded, with FWP officials working alongside the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) to complete the burn.
“And obviously we would be notifying all adjacent landowners, any park visitors and the DNRC crews who are very skilled and experienced at this type of work would have a very effective safety plan in place,” said Tabish.
Public comment on the proposed burn is open through March 27, and can be emailed to Bschwartz2@mt.gov or send written comments to Brian Schwartz, MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 300 Lone Pine Road, Kalispell, MT 59901.
A virtual public information meeting is planned for March 22 at 6 p.m., with information posted online.
If approved, a one-day burn could take place as early as next month.
“Ideally in that window when the weather’s right, all the other factors line up right so, we’re hoping this spring, probably in April if that can work, but really we obviously have to rely on the factors all lining up so that it’s safe and effective conditions for these prescribed burns,” said Tabish.