Fire restrictions rescinded
As of 12:01 a.m. on August 31, fire restrictions for the Kootenai National Forest in Lincoln County and the City of Libby were rescinded.
Per a resolution issued by the county commissioners earlier that day, the fire restrictions were rescinded because “fire managers within the northwest Montana region have collectively agreed that State I or Stage II fire restrictions are no longer necessary.
The current county burning regulations remain in effect.
As of our Aug. 31 deadline the Gold Hill fire pre-evacuations remained in place for Pipe Creek Road residents from mile marker 11-13. The fire was one percent contained and encompassed 3,512 acres.
USFS issues ROD
authorizing phase 1 of Rock Creek mining
RC Resources, a subsidiary of Hecla Mining Company, announced on August 28 that the Supervisor of the Kootenai National Forest has signed the Record of Decision (ROD) authorizing Phase I of the Rock Creek project in Sanders County.
“Signing this decision ends over seven years of environmental analysis which began in 2011 in response to the last round of project litigation,” said Doug Stiles, General Manager for RC Resources. “RC Resources and the U.S. Forest Service have dedicated thousands of hours to reach this point. We appreciate the hard work and perseverance shown by the U.S. Forest Service and their contractor.”
The decision by the State of Montana, through the Department of Environmental Quality and the Governor’s office, to sue RC Resources’ parent organization is detrimental to this project and has created uncertainty about the company’s ability to operate in Montana.
“With the ROD now signed, we will push expeditiously to complete the operating, monitoring, and mitigation plans required by the U.S. Forest Service before beginning the exploration activities,” said Stiles. “Our goal is to have everything in place so that when the courts uphold our right to operate in Montana, we are ready to put Montanans to work. If not for the actions of the State, we could possibly have broken ground as early as this year.”
According to A U.S. Forest Service press release on August 28, “this project would potentially result in more than 600 jobs in the area and produce more than 3.5 million tons of solver and copper ore per year while in operation. The mine is estimated to be viable for more than 30 years.”
Chris Savage, Kootenai Forest Supervisor said, “This project has been in the planning phase for a long time and I am happy to issue the decision to start the first phase of this project.”
Lincoln County gets first probation officer
Lincoln County swore in its first probation officer on Friday, August 31. The ceremony was held in the District Court in Libby.
Vanessa Williamson of Troy was selected from a pool of highly qualified candidates. Officer Williamson will be tasked with monitoring the compliance of convicted misdemeanor offenders from the Lincoln County Justice Court as well as the pretrial monitoring of defendants in the District Court. She will also be a key member of the anticipated Lincoln County Treatment Court. Her oversight is expected to have a significant impact on current jail overcrowding issues as well as enhance victim and public safety by closely scrutinizing defendants’ activities.
Officer Williamson has a strong interest in the rehabilitation and prevention side of the criminal justice system. She received a B.A. degree in criminology from Portland State University where her coursework focused on community corrections and crime prevention. She recently completed her criminology and social work master’s thesis at Arizona State University. In that degree program her course work focused on detentions, community corrections, crime theory and crime prevention strategies.
Officer Williamson will be directly supervised by Judge Jay C. Sheffield, Lincoln County Justice of the Peace and she will have an office in the Lincoln County Annex building at 418 Mineral Avenue in Libby.
Governor appoints local to state board
Governor Steve Bullock announced on August 27 that Libby local Justin O’Brien has been appointed to the state Board of Respiratory Care Practitioners.
O’Brien has been appointed as a member of the public who is not a healthcare professional. He works as a manager at Rosauers.
Friends of Scotchman Peaks all star trail crew still working
This year’s trail season is nearing an end, but there are still two chances to join the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness Allstars in the satisfying stewardship of local hiking routes that are part of the National Trails System, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The volunteer crew from FSPW have been working to help keep trails open and useable in the West Cabinets since 2010, and so far this year have worked on Scotchman Peak Trail #65, Big Spar Lake Trail #143A, Spar Peak Trail #324 and Star Peak Trail #999.
The two remaining projects for 2018 are a three-day work weekend on Napoleon Gulch Trail #1035 and the National Public Lands day event on Morris Creek Trail #132 and Regal Creek Trail #556. The Napoleon Gulch project, September 7, 8 and 9, will concentrate on rebuilding tread that was eradicated by the 2015 fires in Bull River. Crew members will camp at trail crew leader Sandy Compton’s place in Montana on Friday and Saturday night. FSPW will provide dinner on those nights and breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. Friends of Scotchman Peaks also provides tools and safety equipment for trail work, as well as training in traditional tools and trail building.
“We have a three-day work party each year, and they are always a good time,” said Compton. “We get a lot done, and we get to spend some social time together as well.” Last year’s three-day event was spent building new tread on Big Spar Lake Trail #143a.
The National Public Lands day event will be on Saturday, September 29, after which FSPW will host a picnic for the trail crew as well as Clark Fork Friends nearby. “Trails #132 and #556 are inside the fire closure area, as well,” said Compton, “but that should be removed by then. If not, we will go work on Trail #65 if we can’t get up Lightning Creek.”
Volunteers for the work weekend are welcome to help out on any or all of the days, as they can.
“I’d like to see a big turnout for these days,” Compton added. “We see lots of people using trails we work on. It’s nice to hear them say a heartfelt thanks. If each one of them turned out for just one day of trail work every summer, the Scotchman Peaks would have one of the best-maintained systems in the US.”
For more information or to sign up for one of the FSPW trail projects, visit www.scotchmanpeaks.org/stewardship/trail-projects/
State Tree Farm tour in Eureka
The Montana Tree Farm System, composed of forest landowners across the state, will hold their annual meeting and tour in Eureka on September 29th. The tour will include visits to the Therriault Creek Ranch, Flanagan Ranch and Tobacco Valley Ranch Tree Farms. A lunch will be provided with Tim Thier, FWP Region 1 Biologist as the guest speaker. Registration will begin at 8:00 a.m. at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds in Eureka. Attendees will load the buses at 8:15 and return for the lunch and program.
The Montana Tree Farm System is a part of the 70,000 plus Tree Farm members across the nation. Tree Farm members provide certified sustainable wood products, high quality wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities and high quality water from lands we manage to benefit the citizens of Montana.
Tree Farm members and interested forest landowners are encouraged to attend. You can obtain more information and sign up by calling Bonnie Simpson at (406) 293-1116 or at Montanatreefarmsystem@gmail.com by September 15.