Montana Public Radio

logging

A survey of elk hiding cover in the Telegraph Vegetation Project area.
Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A wildfire mitigation project was allowed to proceed in Montana's Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest after two conservation groups raised concerns over the impact on big game habitat, federal appeals court officials said.


A Montana timber company on Jan. 13 announced indefinitely closing one of its two sawmills, citing chronic timber supply problems due to litigation. Economists say lawsuits are only partly to blame.

This map shows the southern portion of the proposed action for the Frozen Moose Project in the Flathead National Forest.
Flathead National Forest

The Flathead National Forest announced a large project Wednesday that proposes commercial logging in areas usually protected from that activity. Officials say it aims to reduce wildfire risk to private homes near the North Fork of the Flathead River.

Map of the Taylor Hellroaring Project.
FS USDA – https://www.fs.usda.gov/nfs/11558/www/nepa/105405_FSPLT3_4301037.pdf

The Flathead National Forest officially approved the Taylor Hellroaring project just north of Whitefish Monday. The project will include nearly 2,000 acres of logging, mechanical thinning and prescribed fire treatments as well as construction of 28 miles of new trails.

Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte and U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary Jim Hubbard hold a forest management roundtable at  the U.S. Forest Service’s Aerial Fire Depot and Smokejumper Center in Missoula, Nov. 7, 2019.
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

Montana U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte and U.S. Agriculture Department Undersecretary Jim Hubbard spearheaded a roundtable this week in Missoula focused on forest and wildland fire policy.

Gianforte called for greater collaboration among stakeholders. Some stakeholders, however, were noticeably absent from the event.

Truck carrying timber
Bell & Jeff (CC-BY-2.0)

The state and the U.S. Forest Service plan to ramp up a program on Montana’s national forests that uses timber sales with restoration components to fund non-commercial conservation work. The amount of timber currently being cut under the program could grow four times over the next year. The timber industry sees that as a much-needed boon.

Proposed road treatments for the Swamp Eddy project on the Lolo National Forest.
Lolo National Forest

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.

Updated at 3:22 p.m. ET

Federal land managers on Wednesday proposed sweeping rule changes to a landmark environmental law that would allow them to fast-track certain forest management projects, including logging and prescribed burning.

The U.S. Forest Service, under Chief Vicki Christiansen, is proposing revisions to its National Environmental Policy Act regulations that could limit environmental review and public input on projects ranging from forest health and wildfire mitigation to infrastructure upgrades to commercial logging on federal land.

Map of "Priority Landscapes" for forest management projects on the Lolo National Forest.
Lolo National Forest

Two proposed logging projects in the Seeley Lake area are the latest in a statewide push towards more use of a collaborative federal and state timber harvest program.

The Lolo National Forest wants to partner with the State of Montana on a pair of so-called Good Neighbor Authority projects to log about 5,000 acres of Forest Service land near Seeley Lake.

"Good Neighbor Authority" allows states and tribes to help the Forest Service with projects on national forest land. The Taylor Hellroaring project near Whitefish is one such project.
U.S. Forest Service

Public comment ends this week on a Forest Service project near Whitefish which proposes to use so-called “good neighbor authority” to collaborate with the State of Montana. It’s a new approach that could mark a shift in which parties get a say in managing national forests.

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