Timber harvest planned on Ninemile Ranger District

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A forest project is planned for the Ninemile Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest that would impact about 64,400 acres with a mix of timber harvest, thinning and some prescribed burns.

The Sawmill-Petty project is located in Missoula and Mineral counties, south of I-90 in the Sawmill, Reservoir, Petty, Peppard, Tank and Corral Creek drainages.

According to the Forest Service, the project is “designed to reduce the risk of wildfire to communities and decrease the potential for high intensity wildfire; increase forest resilience to drought, wildfire, altered fire regimes, insects and disease; and contribute to the sustainable supply of timber from National Forest System lands.”

A public, open-house meeting will be held tonight, Oct. 16 from 6 -7:30 p.m. at the Alberton Community Center, 607 Railroad Ave. Forest Service representatives will be present to answer questions about the project.

“The Sawmill-Petty project is a landscape-level approach at community protection and forest resiliency,” said Eric Tomasik, Ninemile District Ranger. “This project focuses on prescribed burning and removal of timber and fuel in strategic areas. Reducing the fuel-loading in these areas will moderate fire intensity in the future, giving firefighters a better opportunity to engage. We look forward to hearing what the public thinks of this project.”

The Sawmill-Petty project area is approximately 64,400 acres. It includes timber harvest on about 6,200 acres, small tree thinning on about 1,700 acres, and prescribed fire treatments on about 13,070 acres.

About 467 acres of harvest and 1,754 acres of prescribed burning are proposed in the Garden Point Inventoried Roadless Area.

“The treatment in this Roadless area is proposed where past harvest has already occurred; additionally, the proposal considered the past fire behavior in the area such as the Thompson Creek Fire of 2003,” added Tomasik. “The proposed treatments were designed to contribute to the overall forest health and fuels reduction objectives of the project while adhering to the regulations set forth in the 2001 Roadless Rule.”

The proposed action also includes building some roads, largely adopting the transportation system as-is on the acquired lands, and some road decommissioning, the Forest Service notes.

Comments on the Sawmill-Petty Proposed Action will be accepted for 30 days beginning on Oct. 10, 2019.

Comments may submitted electronically to comments-northern-lolo-ninemile@usda.gov ; or mailed to the Sawmill-Petty Project Leader at 24 Fort Missoula Road, Missoula, MT 59804. The Ninemile Ranger Station office (20325 Remount Road, Huson, MT) is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for those who wish to submit hand-delivered comments.

To learn more about the project, visit the Lolo National Forest website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/lolo/landmanagement/projects, or call the Ninemile Ranger Station at 406-626-5201.

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