MTPR

Lolo Peak Fire

Smoke from the Lolo Peak Fire seen from Missoula on the evening of August 16, 2017.
Anne Hosler

The Lolo National Forest announced Wednesday that over 65,000 tree seedlings were planted across the area burned in the Lolo Peak Fire in 2017. 

The planting occurred in May thanks to a partnership with the National Forest Foundation, which donated $30,000 to purchase seedlings for the project.

(L to R) Forest Service Fire Scientist Mark Finney, Missoula District Ranger Jennifer Hensiek, Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier, at a Missoula City Club meeting, focused on wild fire, June 10, 2019.
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

It’s going to take fire — and a lot of it — to fight wildfire in the Missoula Valley, where it is and always has been part of the landscape. Experts say it’s also going to take more prescribed burning, new levels of government agency coordination and new layers of government regulation to make a difference.

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.

Michelle and Dan Schurg walk through their Florence area neighborhood in the aftermath of the Lolo Peak Fire, September 2017.
Mike Albans

The Lolo National Forest’s Missoula Ranger District is now accepting public comment on a proposal to plant trees on thousands of acres that burned in last summer’s 50,000-acre Lolo Peak fire.

The proposed treatments would occur on almost 8,000 acres burned by the Lolo Peak Fire.

Crews work the July Fire in Phillips County, Montana July 5, 2017.
Inciweb

The federal government has denied Montana’s request for $44 million dollars in disaster funding following the historic 2017 fire season that burned over a million acres across the state.

Dan and Michelle Schurg show how close the Lolo Peak Fire got to their home in the Folsom Road neighborhood near Florence.
Mike Albans

This fire season has seen numerous evacuation orders across Montana, but some people choose to stay, saying they want to be present to defend their homes. Among them were Dan and Michelle Schurg.

In the wee hours of August 17, The Lolo Peak Fire destroyed two homes in their Florence-area neighborhood. Dan, Michelle and a friend defied a mandatory evacuation order to defend the Schurg home in the upper reaches of the Folsom Road area. 

Jackie Stermitz looks over the remains of her Florence area home, which burned in the Lolo Peak Fire on August 17, 2017.
Mike Albans

"I don’t know where it was, but the other day I saw one of my mother’s silver cups," says Jackie Stermitz.

"I see a cup over there! Ohhh – I’d almost rather not see this stuff, to be honest, because it’s all broken up."

Jackie Stermitz spent seven years in her home that was built into the hillside in the upper reaches of the Macintosh Manor subdivision near Florence. On August 17, the raging Lolo Peak fire reduced it and a neighbor’s home to rubble.

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

In a visit to the Lolo Peak Fire command post last week, a delegation of cabinet secretaries and Montana’s Republican representatives in Congress made it clear who they think is to blame for the devastating wildfires here in recent years.

"We’re tied up in knots through extensive and ridiculous permitting processes, and frivolous lawsuits from environmental extremists," says Congressman Greg Gianforte.

We’re going to hear from one of the people Gianforte calls an extremist in a moment. He’s the man behind the lawsuit Gianforte is complaining about here:

A cold front will begin to push into the Northern Rockies late this evening into Thursday. Breezy winds, along with scattered showers and thunderstorms associated with this system. Little beneficial rainfall is expected across the area.
National Weather Service Missoula

A couple of days of calm weather has blanketed much of Western Montana in thick smoke, but a cold front is moving in, and that has firefighters concerned.

Greg Poncin is Incident Commander on the Lolo Peak Fire.
Edward O'Brien

On Monday Lolo Peak Fire managers said their burnout operations on the Lolo Peak Fire "probably" led to the destruction of two homes and several outbuildings. Tuesday, they took a more circumspect approach.

Greg Poncin is Incident Commander on the Lolo Peak Fire. MTPR's Edward O'Brien spoke to Poncin Tuesday at his fire camp outside of Florence.

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