To provide for visitor safety, the area will be closed to the public during active logging operations. The closure includes the popular Larry Creek Trails and the area north of Bass Creek Road. The closure will not impact or limit access to Charles Waters Campground or the Bass Creek Trailhead. See attached closure map for more details.
Forest officials say the area closure is necessary to allow logging operators time to remove and haul timber and take care of slash removal. The active logging operation will include heavy equipment and machinery, log truck traffic, chain saw use, and falling limbs and trees, all of which could be extremely hazardous to recreationists in the area.
“The reason for the area closure is to provide for the safety of the many visitors at Bass Creek,” said Stevensville District Ranger Dan Ritter. “If the work goes well, we hope to re-open some of the trails and other areas in about a month.”
The closure also includes the Larry Creek Loop Road #1316 which will remain closed for the entire season once logging begins.
The forest is advising drivers that there will be logging traffic on Highway 93 near the recreation area from mid-May through October. This includes approximately 10 log trucks per day coming and going from the site along with other machinery. Those using the pedestrian-bike trail along the highway in the Bass Creek area should also use extra caution around Bass Creek Road.
Forest officials had hoped to start this project last fall and winter but we’re delayed due to an appeal. The appeal was recently denied and the project was given the go ahead to proceed.
It will provide nearly 4 million board feet of timber (1,100 truckloads) to Montana sawmills. Along with the timber harvest, it will also reduce hazardous fuels and fire hazards created by the dead, dying and diseased trees.
Recent surveys indicate mountain pine beetle populations around the Bass Creek Recreation Area have increased from ‘moderate’ to ‘high hazard’. Thinning the overcrowded forest helps increase airflow, temperatures, and the amount of sunlight that reaches tree trunks and the forest floor – all conditions that make it harder for beetles to kill trees.
Besides improving the overall forest health, the project will also save and protect many of the areas large and distinctive ponderosa pine trees from future beetle attacks.
For project updates, closure maps and information visit www.fs.usda.gov/bitterroot or contact the Stevensville Ranger District at (406) 777-5461. Stay in touch with the Bitterroot National Forest through www.twitter.com/BitterrootNF andwww.facebook.com/DiscoverTheBitterroot.