MTPR

Rice Ridge Fire

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.

A plane flies over the Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake, MT, August 8, 2017.
Inciweb

Since before the smoke from the Rice Ridge Fire cleared in 2017, a team of University of Montana researchers have been tracking lung health of local residents.

They presented their early findings to the Seeley Lake Community Council for the first time Monday night.

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.

Megan Fylling and William Blake try to identify a bird flitting through the trees in a part of the Rice Ridge burn area near Seeley Lake.
Rosie Costain

Salvage logging on a portion of the Rice Ridge Fire burn area near Seeley Lake is set to begin soon. The U.S. Forest Service is finalizing plans to log about 5,600 acres on the 160,000 acres that burned in the biggest wildfire Montana saw last summer.

I recently visited the salvage logging site, about half a mile drive outside Seeley Lake, with Megan Fylling and Willaim Blake. They’re avian biologists, Fylling is with the University of Montana Bird Ecology Lab and Blake at MPG Ranch.

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.

Amy Cilimburg, the director of Climate Smart Missoula, helped Seeley Lake residents Joy and Don Dunagan get a HEPA air filter through a partnership with the Missoula City-County Health Department.
Nora Saks

This past wildfire season, unprecedented amounts of wildfire smoke in communities across western Montana threw public health agencies a curveball.

Yesterday, we dove into what we know and are still learning about the long term health impacts of exposure to wildfire smoke. Today, we’re looking at what it would take to provide filtered air to the most vulnerable Montanans.

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.

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

The town of Seeley Lake is launching some First Friday events to try to bounce back after a difficult fire season. The first is this Friday night.

Chris Stout, Seeley Lake’s school superintendent, helped organize the event. He said, "The more we can offer in town, and the more that’s going on in it,  just benefits us because rural communities in Montana are sort of drying up.”

Montana Wildfire Roundup For September 1, 2017

Sep 1, 2017
Type 1 Chinook helicopter with bucket on Nelson Creek Fire
Inciweb

Governor Steve Bullock this afternoon declared a state of disaster in Montana due to wildfires. Two previous executive orders declared states of emergency. This disaster declaration allows Governor Bullock to mobilize additional state resources and more Montana National Guard troops to combat the fires. It is in conjunction with a directive to the Montana Department of Transportation that temporarily suspends certain regulations in order to make it easier to transport heavy firefighting equipment.

The Rice Ridge Fire public meeting in Ovando Tuesday
Nicky Ouellet

At last night’s public meeting on the Rice Ridge Fire in Ovando, John Thompson, the incident commander leading the charge against it, said Wednesday will be a big day.

"I'm gonna tell you straight up that tomorrow [Wed, 8/30] is probably going to be one of the most challenging days we have of this fire season," Thompson said.

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