MTPR

Andrew Larson

A firefighter stands in front of flames from a wildfire.
(PD)

Scientists at the University of Montana have found that climate change is already reducing the ability of some forests in the western U.S. to bounce back after wildfire. Their findings are confirming a long-suspected change.

For the past three years, UM post-doc Kimberly Davis has looked at how ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forests regenerate after fire, and she’s made an eye-opening discovery.

Andrew Larson is the new director of the University of Montana’s Wilderness Institute.
Courtesy Andrew Larson

Andrew Larson, The new director of the University of Montana’s Wilderness Institute wants to continue refining the organization’s core mission of education, research and service. But Larson also says, "One of the things that I’m hoping we can accomplish is to place wilderness in a broader context."

The U.S. Forest Service and Montana DNRC work to plant more than 13,000 whitebark pine seedlings in the Swan Mountain Range as a cooperative post-burn restoration project on June 18, 2018.
Nicky Ouellet / MTPR

After a wildfire, forest managers know that a forest can and will bounce back on its own. Still, the U.S. Forest Service doles out millions of dollars each year for post-burn restoration and rehabilitation.

Half a year after a memorable fire season shrouded Montana in thick gray skies, burned more than a million acres and caused tens of millions of dollars in budget shortfalls, scientists at the University of Montana are saying Montanans should get used to it.

Primm Meadow is meadow of old growth ponderosa pine trees a little upstream from where the Blackfoot River joins the Clark Fork, northeast of Missoula.
Eric Whitney

Last week I visited a cherished and protected little piece of Montana. It's a meadow of old growth ponderosa pine trees a little upstream from where the Blackfoot River joins the Clark Fork, northeast of Missoula.

Caption The US Forest Service has proposed several thinning projects this fall aimed at reducing fuels in dry pine forests like this in the Bitterroot National Forest.
Nora Saks

Montana lawmakers are scoring political points by blaming environmentalists for suing to shut down logging projects on public lands. But public lands logging is both feeding area sawmills and reducing wildfire risk. MTPR's Nora Saks reports on a couple of projects in the Bitterroot Valley.

The Southwestern Crown Collaborative visits a burn site from the Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake.
Brittany Greeson, Crossing The Divide

Wildfires burned more than a million acres across Montana this year, making it one of the most expensive fire seasons since 1999. While the smoke has cleared, the debate over wildfires and forest management is ongoing. Some Montana lawmakers are blaming what they call "environmental extremists" who've managed to stop some logging. But ecologists say it's more complicated than that. In an effort to learn how to live with wildfires, the Southwestern Crown Collaborative is one group trying to find common ground.

Congressman Greg Gianforte invited the media Friday to what he called a roundtable talk about the U.S. Forest Service Stonewall vegetation project near Lincoln.

He says that lawsuits blocking projects like Stonewall are standing in the way of healthy forests in the Montana.

PD

Congressman Greg Gianforte is kicking off what he’s calling a “Forest Jobs Tour” tomorrow in Helena. A press release says, “Gianforte will hold a roundtable briefing on the status of the Stonewall Project with key stakeholders.”

The Stonewall project is a U.S. Forest Service vegetation management proposal that called for logging, thinning and controlled-burning about 5,000 acres north of Lincoln. Shortly after it was approved in 2016 a federal judge temporarily halted it in response to a lawsuit from the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

Last night Senator Steve Daines held what he calls a “tele-townhall,” one of the periodic conference calls he invites Montanans to join, in which he takes a few questions from callers. This one was also live streamed on his Facebook page. The topic was forest management and wildfires.