The Lolo National Forest is taking public comment on an environmental assessment for a 28,000-acre project that was delayed by fire.
The Swamp Eddy project was initiated in 2016 but was delayed the next year when the Sheep Gap Fire burned over half the area, which is about five miles southwest of Plains.
Erin Carey is the Plains/Thompson Falls District Ranger. She said, "We are looking forward to going into the remainder of the project area to really take a proactive stance on addressing some of the forest health needs in that area.”
The project will include adding 2.6 miles of temporary roads, decommissioning 79 miles of current roads and adding 16 miles of permanent non-system roads.
According to Carey, the Forest Service is planning on “reducing fuel loading in the area, improving forest health, and then we’ll also be addressing some of the resource concerns of the dispersed recreation site down on the Clark Fork River.”
The Forest Service says this will include re-establishing diversity of tree age, species and size class, while promoting native species such as ponderosa pine, western larch and western white pine.
The assessment says the project will help protect trees from root disease and bark beetles without having any major impacts on local wildlife.
Public comment will be open until Friday, Sept. 13 and can be submitted electronically, by mail to the Swamp Eddy project leader, or in person to the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District.