By HEIDI DESCH, WHITEFISH PILOT JAN 24, 2017
PHOTO BY STEVEN GNAM
The project known as the Whitefish Municipal Watershed Fuel Reduction project is an effort to prevent a devastating wildfire that could be destructive to the city’s water supply from Second and Third creeks. The project is also aimed at addressing disease concerns in the forest, including root disease, bark beetles, and mortality in white bark pine.
Flathead Forest Supervisor Chip Weber last week issued a decision notice and Finding of No Significant Impact for the project following an environmental assessment. The project, which includes 1,114 acres of forestland, is expected to be implemented in the summer of 2017.
Project leader Deb Bond said the goal is to implement a variety of fuel reduction treatments on the area.
“The purpose is that by treating the forest we hope we can reduce the chance of wildfire in the future,” Bond said.
Several types of silvicultural treatments are planned on 254 acres. Commercial thinning is planned on 58 acres and seed tree harvests is proposed on 196 acres. About 859 acres within the project area are set to have fuel treatments by either prescribed burning of 756 acres or understory removal on 103 acres.
The prescribed burns are set along the south face of the Whitefish Range above Haskill Basin. Most of the terrain is high-elevation and steep with limited access.
Timber harvest is planned mostly on the lower flanks of the range that are accessible by established roads and temporary road extensions.