Bitterroot On the Ground
The Bitterroot Restoration Committee is involved with the following projects.
After evaluating the Three Saddles Environmental Assessment, the committee reached consensus on many vegetative treatments that seemed to conform to the MFRC restoration principles. These included, developing and maintaining large pine and larch and re-introducing fire. The group also supported decommissioning old logging roads that are no longer in use. The forest issued its final decision in the late summer, and the subcommittee is looking at possible monitoring opportunities.
Westside Forest Restoration and Fuel Reduction
Committee members agree on the need to reintroduce natural fire to the Westside of the Bitterroot Valley, which will ultimately require more public acceptance of both managed and wild fires. However, forest conditions in many of these areas preclude the use of natural fire due to turn-of-the-century logging that removed large ponderosa pine, and subsequent fire suppression that set the forest on a path dominated by smaller and more fire prone Douglas-fir, which created dangerous fire conditions. Additionally, numerous homes now border adjacent public lands and the Forest Service lacks adequate access above many private properties; this makes managing those lands a challenge. As a solution, the committee agreed to look at possible project opportunities that could create better conditions for natural fire, which includes reaching out to landowners to help solve the access challenge. At the same time, the committee is interested in restoring the ponderosa pine forests that once dominated the Bitterroot Valley floor and low-to-mid elevation mountain slopes. The committee hopes to reach consensus on a project treating lands within the wildland urban interface (WUI), while also identifying opportunities to restore ponderosa pine stands. The next step will be to develop recommendations for the Forest Service to take under consideration for further environmental and public review. The committee spent the last year looking at an area south of Hamilton between Roaring Lion and Camus creeks.
Shirley Mountain Restoration
The committee reached agreement on a statement of interest and possible treatment scenarios on a restoration proposal for a grand 325-acre ponderosa pine forest up the East Fork of the Bitterroot River. The committee is waiting for the Forest Service to evaluate the viability of a commercial product before initiating the public review process.
Darby Lumber Lands
A subcommittee developed a statement of interest to be used by the committee when it addresses the restoration and travel management on former Darby Lumber timber lands in the Sleeping Child and Rye creek drainages. The committee approved the interest statement and is waiting for the Forest Service to complete the travel analysis and to develop a proposal.