MISSOULA - The Lolo National Forest has announced plans to conduct prescribed burning this Spring.
“As the snow melts and access begins to open up, we will take advantage of favorable weather conditions to initiate prescribed burning operations when and where we can,” said Jeff Hayes, Fuels and Fire Planner. “Prescribed burns are carefully planned and managed to reduce wildfire risk and mimic the natural role of fire on the landscape to maintain and restore healthy forest conditions.”
Underburning operations on up to 100 acres could begin as soon as Wednesday, March 23 in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area located three miles north of Missoula. The area is located north of the junction of Spring Creek and Rattlesnake Creek above Schoolhouse Meadow.
Underburning is a type of prescribed fire treatment that reduces surface and ladder fuels under the forest canopy. At this time, no trail closures are expected to be in place. People recreating in the area are advised to use caution and avoid areas where firefighters are directly working.
Smoke may be visible from the Rattlesnake, Missoula and I-90 and is expected to dissipate to the north and east. Flames, smoke, and smoldering vegetation may also be visible from the Main Rattlesnake Trail (#515) and the Spring Gulch/Stuart Peak Trails (#517) for several days after the burn.
Lolo National Forest officials note the burning "is part of the ongoing Marshall Woods Restoration Project which utilizes forest treatments to reduce hazardous fuels and improve forest health in critical areas adjacent to communities at-risk of wildfire impacts."
Many more acres across the Lolo National Forest are planned to receive prescribed fire in the coming months if conditions are favorable. Favorable conditions include correct temperature, wind, fuel moisture and ventilation for smoke.