Public comment period opens for Rice Ridge Fire salvage

Source: KPAX

SEELEY LAKE – Lolo National Forest managers are beginning to take comment on plans to salvage several thousand acres of timber from last summer’s massive Rice Ridge Fire.

The lightning-caused fire scorched over 160,000 acres and was the largest fire in Western Montana last summer. While much of the area is too steep or remote to allow widespread timber salvage, the US Forest Service is proposing a project to recover timber and do restoration work on up to 5,600 acres.

The new Environmental Assessment lists three alternatives. Those include the standard “no action” option, Alternative “B’ — which would salvage 5,600 acres, reforest 16,000 acres and remove hazard trees on 25-miles of road. Alternative “C” would salvage 2,700 acres, reforest 15,000 acres and remove hazard trees on 28-miles of road.

The main difference in the options is that the second option would build 13-miles of temporary logging roads, while no additional roads would be used for the third option.

Forest officials note that the salvaging of some of the burned timber will help finance hazard tree felling and road maintenance activities necessary to address public safety concerns and resource protections in the burned area.

A public meeting to discuss the plans will be held from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. on June 27th  at the Seeley Lake Chamber of Commerce. Click here to review the plans and comment on the proposals.