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Residents pepper US Forest Service with questions about Bitterroot Front Plan

Sweeping plan generating some intense questions
Bitterroot Front Plan
Bitterroot Front
Bitterroot Front Plan Map
Posted at 8:21 AM, Nov 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-07 16:27:57-05

FLORENCE — A sweeping plan to manage forests and wildfire along the Bitterroot Front is generating some intense questions from the public, with people asking about future logging and fire protection.

The plan being floated by the Bitterroot National Forest would set up a long-term framework for managing the public lands along the west side of the Bitterroot Valley resulting in healthy forests, better wildlife habitat and less risk from major fires.

The plan would also encourage cooperation with private landowners to do the same things.

Bitterroot Front Plan Map

But some people are wondering whether the plan would bring more logging with less public input. The agency is proposing regular use of existing tools, from select logging projects to prescribed burning for a healthier forest.

"Fuels reduction covers everything from hand thinning and hand piling, and commercial thinning where the trees are of commercial product you know and prescribed burning," explained Darby District Ranger Eric Winthers. "Once we can thin it enough where we'll go in and burn every five years or so to keep that understory cleared out."

You'll have your last chance to ask your own questions during the final briefing which happens on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at the Bitterroot River Inn and Conference Center in Hamilton, starting at 6 pm.