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logging

Belt Creek, in the Little Belt Mountains, Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest
Eric Whitney

The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest is hosting their annual open house next week in White Sulphur Springs.

"It’s mainly just to invite the public in to talk about projects that we’ve been working on over the years, but also projects that we have planned field work going on this upcoming summer," Kathy Bushnell, a spokesperson for the Forest says. 

Live and beetle killed trees in the Helena National Forest.
Steve Jess

Today the U.S. House passed the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill with strong bipartisan support. It funds the federal government through September. The bill now heads to the Senate where NPR says it is also likely to pass with bipartisan support.

Wednesday, Montana's Republican Senator Steve Daines said there's good news for the Treasure State in the spending bill.

Helena National Forest
Forest Service Northern Region (PD)

The big federal funding bill that Congress is expected to vote on Thursday would mean some certainty on three big issues for Montana and other Western states.

The bill locks-in Secure Rural Schools Act money for up to four years, changes how wildland firefighting is funded, and allocates money to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The Rice Ridge Fire seen from Seeley Lake on August 1, 2017.
Eric Whitney

There will be no more so-called "fire-borrowing" from the U.S. Forest Service if the big federal spending bill Congress is working on passes. 

Both of Montana's U.S. Senators confirmed today that the spending bill expected to be voted on this week fundamentally changes how America pays to fight wildfires

Tony Harwood lectures on Native American uses and approach to wildland fire at the first Wildland Fire in Western Montana lecture event in Kalispell, MT February 23, 2018.
Nicky Ouellet

Even with two feet of snow on the ground, homeowners and fire managers in the Flathead Valley are thinking about fire season. FireSafe Flathead kicked off a four-part lecture series about wildland fire in western Montana at Flathead Valley Community College Thursday night. MTPR's Nicky Ouellet brings us the highlights.

Turmoil Shakes Up Agency In Charge Of Vast US Lands

Feb 20, 2018
Former Interior secretary and Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke.
Nicky Ouellet / Montana Public Radio

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A year of upheaval at the U.S. Interior Department has seen dozens of senior staff members reassigned and key leadership positions left unfilled, rules considered burdensome to industry shelved, and a sweeping reorganization proposed for its 70,000 employees.

The evolving status quo at the agency responsible for more than 780,000 square miles (2 million square kilometers) of public lands, mostly in the American West, has led to praise from energy and mining companies and Republicans, who welcomed the departure from perceived heavy-handed regulation under President Barack Obama.

The trail to Piper Creek falls within the bounds of the proposed Swan Forest Initiative’s conservation forest.
Nicky Ouellet

For more than half a decade, the Lake County Conservation District has been working on a proposal to transfer management of 60,000 acres from the Flathead National Forest to the state for the next 100 years.

The Flathead National Forest is hosting an open house on a proposed timber sale near Bigfork.

The open house for the Bug Creek Forest Health and Fuels Reduction Project happens February 6 at the Swan Lake Ranger Station in Bigfork. The agency will have specialists on hand to answer questions, it’s taking public comment on the proposal until February 16.

The Park Creek Fire north of Lincoln, summer 2017.
Inciweb

More than 700,000 acres of national forest land across Montana and Idaho burned this summer, and U.S. Forest Service officials are now deciding what to do with it. The agency this fall set up a post-fire incident management team to quickly analyze damage and plan next steps.

Those steps include salvage logging, a controversial process that Incident Commander Mike Elson says will cover about 5 percent of burned areas across the region.

Excerpt from Tenmile-South Helena vegetation treatment map.
USFS

The Forest Service says it will meet with objectors to its plan to log and burn a nearly 18,000 acre area in Helena’s municipal watershed.  

The Tenmile-South Helena Vegetation Project was proposed in 2014 to reduce fire danger and protect water quality around Chessman reservoir, an area with a lot of homes in the wildland-urban interface.

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