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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Ross Creek Cedars Well Positioned To Survive Nearby Fires

On the Kootenai National Forest, one wildfire is burning within 1/2 mile of the Ross Creek Cedars, a popular scenic area home to massive cedars up to 1,000 years old.

Fire officials say there's a reason these cedars have persisted so long. They believe the area's microclimate, natural barriers surrounding the grove, and the efforts of firefighters will keep the cedars protected.

Fire information officer Bob MacGregor:

"The good thing about the Ross Creek Cedars is that they've survived all the fires in the past 500 to 1,000 years, including the big fires of 1889, and 1910, which burned everything else around here. They sit down in a natural drainage, it's quite humid down there. There's a couple of natural barriers without fuels that protects that grove. That's why they've been able to live there that long. We think it's going to protect it this time, but firefighters are helping to, lets say, enhance those natural barriers too."

Cedars up to 175 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter are scattered throughout the grove, located in one of Montana's wettest areas.

The Sawtooth fire is one of six that make up the Clark Fork Complex, a combination of fires straddling the Idaho-Montana border on the Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle National Forests. Those fires have consumed over 12,000 acres. They're estimated at 25 percent contained, with 343 personnel working the fires.

The Ross Creek Cedars area is closed due to fire activity; one of many fire-related closures on the Kootenai National Forest.

A community will be held for the Clark Fork Complex at Camp Elohim on Bull Lake Road on August 27 at 6:00 p.m.

Josh Burnham is MTPR's digital editor. He works on the news team and as a content strategist managing the station's website, podcasts, email newsletters and social media.
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