The project is designed to improve forest health and resiliency while also protecting the areas large and distinctive pine trees from the mountain pine beetle. The project will add approximately four miles of existing trails to the National Forest trail system while also providing forest products, jobs, and income to the local economy. Project specifics include:
Ø Commercial timber harvest (logging) on 765 acres
Ø Non-commercial thinning to reduce tree densities on 41 acres.
Ø Remove conifers that are encroaching on 58 acres of aspen trees to improve the vegetation diversity
Thinning the overcrowded forest helps to increase airflow, temperatures, and the amount of sunlight that reaches tree trunks and the forest floor - all conditions that make it harder for the beetles to attack and kill trees.
The Bass Creek Recreation Area is a high priority for treatment because of its high levels of public use and increased levels of pine beetle mortality. Surveys in 2011 indicate mountain pine beetle populations in the area have increased from ‘moderate’ to ‘high hazard’. Forest officials say the sooner the project begins, the better.
“We are currently removing dead and dying trees from mountain pine beetle at numerous locations on the Forest,” said Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor Julie King. “These areas include popular campgrounds, trailheads and at the Lake Como Recreation Area. This situation is not going to get better anytime soon and we need to act now to try and protect the Bass Creek Recreation Area, before it’s too late.”
Just last month, the Forest sprayed more than 700 susceptible, large ponderosa pine trees at the Charles Waters Campground in the Bass Creek Recreation Area with the insecticide Carbaryl. It’s 99-100% effective at protecting trees from the mountain pine beetle for just one year.
The project could begin as early as this fall and would provide nearly 4 million board feet of timber (800 truckloads) to Montana sawmills. Along with the timber harvest, the project will also reduce hazardous fuels and fire hazards created by the dead, dying and diseased trees.
Copies of the Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact are available online at www.fs.usda.gov/projects/bitterroot/landmanagement/projects. For more information or questions concerning the project, please contact Dan Ritter, Stevensville District Ranger at (406) 777-5461. Only individuals or organizations who submitted comments or otherwise expressed interest by the close of the specified comment period may appeal this project.