The LW2 project is designed primarily to increase firefighter and public safety and reduce wildland fire risks to both private property and National Forest System lands in the wildland urban interface (WUI) including evacuation routes. Many of the treatments proposed are also designed to reinvigorate aspen stands in the area.
“The primary access road along the west shoreline of Hebgen Lake is 18 miles long; starting as a two-lane road off of Hwy 20 then tapering to a narrow dead end,” said Cavan Fitzsimmons, Hebgen Lake District Ranger. “This one route is the main ingress/egress route accessing numerous developed recreation facilities, residences and a popular recreation area. If a wildlife fire did occur evacuation could be difficult and dangerous.”
The preferred alternative, alternative two, was chosen because it most effectively meets the project’s purpose and need and addresses environmental and social issues raised by public and agency specialists from the Forest Service and partner agencies.
The Final EIS analyzes a variety of fuels treatments including approximately 2,575 acres of forest thinning (mechanized and hand) and 325 acres of slashing followed by prescribed burning. Additional activities include about 5-6 miles of temporary road construction and reclamation, along with re-vegetation.
Another approximately 370 acres of the proposed treatments are in the Lionhead Inventoried Roadless Area. Treatments include small tree thinning, prescribed burning and mechanized thinning in about 50 acres. About 150 acres of proposed treatments are in a part of the roadless area that is substantially altered. These alterations occurred prior to the roadless area designation. No temporary or permanent roads are proposed within the roadless area.
The Gallatin National Forest anticipates the Record of Decision will likely be available at the end of November or early December. Once the Decision is published an appeal period will begin. Implementation on all project work is expected to take 6-9 years. The Final EIS can be found at: www.fs.usda.gov/gallatin under Land and Resource Management and then Projects or by calling NEPA Team Leader, Teri Seth at (406)-522-2539.