“Several large wildfires have threatened private lands and developments in the Stillwater area in recent memory including Derby, Cathedral, Initial Creek, Sauderbaum, Tumble Creek and Storm Creek,” said Jeff Stockwell, Beartooth Fire Management Officer, “the District has been working with the Nye Volunteer Fire Department and the Stillwater Mining Company to address concerns and seek input to the proposed project,” Stockwell continued. Project documents and the public scoping period seeking public comment will be available in mid to late February. Based on project input the Forest anticipates potential project implementation to start in the 2014 calendar year.
The current fire conditions in the Main and West Fork Stillwater drainages are easily capable of supporting another large landscape level fire that could move quickly through National Forest System lands and threaten public and private infrastructures, especially given the area’s local trends and history of down drainage wind events.
The West Fork of the Stillwater drainage is accessed via an 8 ½ mile one-way ingress/egress route that is densely forested. Treatments would improve public and firefighter safety improving this access route, along with thinning strategic adjacent stands that have become overgrown with trees. This will provide better wildfire suppression options, increase forest health and improve wildlife habitat. Slash generated through the project would be piled and burned, along with decking larger materials, which would provide for additional public and/or commercial firewood harvesting.
For more information contact Jeff Stockwell, District Fire Management Officer at 406-446-4538 or Drew Grimes, Fuels, Fire Management Specialist at 406-446-4528. For general information on the Custer National Forest visitwww.fs.usda.gov/custer