Helena Montana gets $235K grant to log pine beetle treesPosted: February 8, 2012
Brad Langsather heads up the pine beetle restoration projects for the City of Helena. He says the newest project will entail the area south of the Beattie Street Trailhead.
“We will be going into these areas, removing the dead trees and thinning the remaining live green trees to a healthier spacing that is more sustainable as we go out into the future,” Langsather says.
The Helena City Commission recently approved receipt of a $235,000 FEMA grant to complete the restoration.
“The project area roughly lies between Davis Street and goes throughout these treed areas at the foothills of Mount Ascension all the way over to Lime Kiln Road,” Langsather says.
By thinning the trees, he says it will reduce fire risk making it safer for residents whose homes are in the wildland urban interface.
Dead trees line the trails and some have already crashed to the ground. In some cases, the red trees have entirely lost their needles and are just waiting for a wind storm to blow them down.
“I think that people over time will see a much healthier robust tree on-site rather than these thick jungles of overstocked light starved pine trees,” Langsather says.
He says hikers use the south hills everyday to exercise so when contractors begin the work in January they will close parts of the trails temporarily, but nothing will be shut down for too long.
“Generally the recreationists are the same type of people that use the area every day to do their physical activity and get the dogs out so that’s why we try not to open up the whole area at once. We work in small areas so that they can adjust slightly,” Langsather says.
When the thinning project finishes near Mount Ascension, Langsather says it should look a lot like Mount Helena does now that the city cleaned up the hillside.
Langsather says even though this marks the end to the major thinning projects, he says the city will have to maintain all the work that it’s done over the past few years.
Langsather says Helena taxpayers will pay $78,000 for this particular project which encompasses about 145 acres. The project should be completed by June 2012.