The Big Elk Divide Restoration Committee is working on the following projects within the Helena National Forest.
ERC was informed in early 2013 by the Helena Forest Supervisor that the preparation of a Final EIS and Decision for the Warm Springs project that ERC had spent a considerable amount of time reviewing and preparing comments on the draft EIS in 2011 and 2012 was delayed for two years.
ERC initiated efforts to work with the managing agencies to prioritize landscapes within the Elkhorn Wildlife Management Unit allowing ERC to then select and focus on an initial landscape for developing restoration project proposals. Our meetings have focused on understanding the agencies’ available scientific data that we can use to assess the various landscapes and determine which landscapes provide us the best opportunities for moving restoration efforts forward.
The ERC has established a project subcommittee that is working at developing the detailed data and analysis that can show restoration needs within and across landscapes. The subcommittee has developed the future restored condition description write-ups for each biophysical setting condition class ranging from grass and shrublands, ponderosa pine, dry and moist Douglas-fir types, subalpine fir, to the alpine types that have been agreed upon by the full ERC. Once this assessment format is finalized it will be expandable to cover all landscapes within the EWMU.
Crow Creek Landscape
The major accomplishment for the ERC in 2013 has been the development and preparation of the Crow Creek Restoration proposal. The committee developed the detailed protocols to utilize the existing Forest Service data sets, analyzed this data and prepared our restoration treatments. Utilizing Fire Condition class, biophysical settings and seral stage descriptions and pathways we laid out our assessment of future conditions for the landscapes, current conditions and evaluated how different they are. The committee then determined how much of each seral stage was necessary to treat to re-align the current condition to the desired condition. This evaluation provided us with the amount of acreage in each seral stage that needed to be treated and how it is to be treated to begin to move the landscape towards the desired condition. Detailed maps of the extent of the treatment opportunities have been prepared. The true extent of the treatment areas will be determined as we work together with the agency on a final project but we feel this restoration analysis provides the benchmark for restoration needs on the Crow Creek landscape.
A formal presentation of our proposal will be provided to the Forest Service and other managing agencies for the Elkhorn Cooperative Management Area in the Fall of 2013 so the agency can begin a formal NEPA planning process in 2014. The ERC anticipates completing the broad restoration assessments for the remaining 4 analysis areas of the ECMA in the Fall of 2013. ERC will continue to be involved with the assessments and NEPA process for agency projects.
ERC submitted scoping comments to the BLM on Iron Mask property management needs and to the Helena Forest on the “1988 Habitat Enhancement Project” focusing on restoration needs and treatments on these landscape areas.
Elkhorn RC Project Documents & Maps
Restoration of Ecosystems in the Elkhorn Cooperative Management Area
Elkhorn RC Presentation Materials
The following materials are part of the Inform, Involve & Education (II&E) Outreach program. The goal of the ERC is to reach out to local community groups and the public to discuss the work of the ERC and its restoration goals.
Public Meeting Presentation