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You are here: Home / Research / Projects / Fire-Community & Infrastructure / Connecting Fuels Treatments in the Salish Mountains and Whitefish Range

Connecting Fuels Treatments in the Salish Mountains and Whitefish Range

This landscape-scale fuels reduction project targets connecting 25 miles of cross boundary fuel reduction treatments within the rapidly expanding wildland urban interface (WUI) and communities at risk of catastrophic wildfire near the Salish Mountains west of Kalispell and north to the Whitefish Range.

This landscape-scale fuels reduction project targets connecting 25 miles of cross boundary fuel reduction treatments within the rapidly expanding wildland urban interface (WUI) and communities at risk of catastrophic wildfire near the Salish Mountains west of Kalispell and north to the Whitefish Range.

Flathead is the third most populated County in the state with 60% of the population living in forested areas; it ranked third for total risk to structures in the Montana Wildfire Risk Assessment (2020).

In addition, 65% of the forested project area was identified as part of the priority areas for focused attention in the Montana Forest Action Plan (2020) due to elevated wildfire risk and forest health issues. Dominant forest species are Douglas-fir, western larch, lodgepole pine, subalpine fir, and spruce, with secondary presence of ponderosa pine, whitebark pine, alpine larch, and western redcedar.

The project boundary and priority areas, as identified on the map, are strategically defined to connect recent past and planned cross-boundary fuel reduction projects in a manner that will significantly reduce and mitigate wildfire threats to communities and landowners. The 4,230 acres this proposal would fund are the high priority and expensive non-commercial acres that connect a conservative estimate of 22,000 acres treated within the past 10 years across all ownerships.

These planned acres are in conjunction with an additional 10,000 acres planned in the next three years to be treated through commercial timber harvest within the Joint Chiefs project area. To address the need, treatments will include thinning, mastication, piling, and prescribed fire.

Long-standing partner relationships assure successful implementation and outcomes across ownership boundaries.

Beyond protecting homes from wildfire is the protection of critical infrastructure including the Whitefish municipal watershed, four public schools, Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) powerline corridor, BNSF railroad, Whitefish Mountain Resort, and communication sites. Benefits include evacuation routes for the safety of residents and responders, enhancing forest health, increasing wildfire resilience, and climate adaptation.

Partners: Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), Flathead County, Northwest Montana Hazardous Fuels Program, and the National Forest Foundation

  • FY 2022
  • FY 2022 Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Project
  • Total FY22 Funding Request: $841,905
Montana: Flathead National Forest, Flathead County
Filed under: Wildland Fire, Research