Each spring and fall, the Bitterroot National Forest conducts a number of prescribed burns in areas that need to be cleared of surface material under the trees (see photo above). Public affairs Officer Tod McKay said the burns will begin at the end of March and beginning of April in the Bitterroot Valley.

There are projects on about 4,500 acres this season, occuring in each ranger district of the forest. The burning will be dependent on the weather. Fire officials also look at times when the smoke dispersion will be good. Matt Young, Fuels Fire Management Officer, said the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy tries to put fire back into fire-adapted ecosystems. Young said in a news release, "Those goals include working collaboratively with stakeholders across all jurisdictions to produce resilient landscapes, fire adapted communities, and safe and effective wildfire response."

  • Darby/Sula Ranger District - 2,300 acres - Waddell Units south of Lake Como, Como/Horse Lick north of Lake Como, Trapper Bunkhouse between Little Tin Cup and McCoy Creeks, Cameron Blue and Middle East Fork near Guide Creek and Tolan Ridge, horse pasture and ditches at Sula Ranger Station.
  • West Fork Ranger District - 1,200 acres - Lower West Fork south of Trapper Creek, School Point Ecoburn west of Boulder Creek, Soda Spring Ecoburn east of Little West Fork, Frazier Interface south of Pierce Creek, and Horse Pasture at Lone Pine Helibase.
  • Stevensville Ranger District - 1,000 acres - Larry Bass within Bass Creek Recreation Area, Sweeney Creek west of Florence, Three Saddle units in Sapphire Mountains west of Stevensville.
  • There will be short-term smoke from the fires, but the forest works with Montana DEQ to limit the smoke impacts. For updates, check the Bitterroot National Forest facebook page.

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