Submitted by Willie Sikes
Fire managers on the Kootenai National Forests are gearing up for prescribed burning season as weather and conditions allow. Fire managers monitor weather and fuels to determine when burning can be safely conducted. Burned areas are monitored to ensure that fire remains within the project boundaries.
Prescribed burning is part of each Ranger District’s annual natural resource management program to reduce hazardous fuels, prepare areas for tree planting, and improve wildlife forage. Annually, the Kootenai National Forests treats nearly 3,000-6,000 acres with prescribed fire. Each project follows a prescribed fire burn plan. The prescribed fire projects are located, designed, and controlled to reduce the potential for adverse effects. These projects will be in compliance with Montana air quality standards and coordinated with Montana State Department of Environmental Quality to reduce the impacts of smoke to our neighbors, cooperators, and surrounding communities.
Burned areas can be very hazardous. The public is urged to stay away from project areas during burning operations and for a few days afterward. Signs will be posted along access roads and near affected trailheads and trail junctions during operations. Temporary access restrictions or closures may be necessary for public safety. The exact timing and acreage of burns depends on fuel conditions and wind patterns.
Three Rivers Ranger District burn projects will include broadcast burning in timber harvest units to facilitate reforestation requirements. These treatments will use prescribed fire to reduce hazardous fuels and improve forest health. Prescribed fire is also used to increase forage for big game and to restore the fire process to the landscape. Prescribed burns will take place at:
Þ Keno Mountain / N. Fork Meadow Creek – Two units for a total of 2,279 acres. These units are high elevation burns and will be weather permitting.
Debris piles, stacked by hand or machine, are located across the Three Rivers Ranger District and are a result of: harvest activities, hazardous fuels reduction, wildland fire suppression work, and recreation site management. These piles are burned to reduce fuel loads in these areas. The piles are strategically burned based on their location, access, and weather conditions. The debris piles consist of hand piles, excavator piles, landing piles, and right of way piles. Pile burning will take place in the following locations on the Three Rivers Ranger District:
Þ 30 acres of piles located up Burnt Dutch Creek
Þ 23 acres of piles located at Yaak Hwy and Meadow Creek
Þ 21 acres of piles located on East Side Road
Þ 118 acres of piles located on Spread Creek
Þ 87 acres of piles locate along the South Fork Yaak
Libby Ranger District burn projects will include Libby pile burning at:
Þ Pipe Creek/Hwy 68
Cabinet Ranger District burn projects which include:
Þ Minton Trout Unit – Located in the Minton and Trout Creek drainage. Total acreage 2,939.
Þ Trout Creek Unit – Wildlife burn located in the Trout Creek drainage
Cabinet Ranger District pile burning will take place in the following locations:
Þ Beaver Creek
Þ Cabinet Ranger Station
Þ Trout Creek Admin Site
Þ Cabinet Campgrounds
Þ Bull River and Beaver Peak
Please be careful when traveling in your vehicle through smoky areas. Slow down, people and equipment may be present and hard to see in the smoke.