Helena and Townsend Ranger Districts Plan for Prescribed Burn Projects

HELENA, MONT., September 6, 2018— The Helena and Townsend Ranger Districts are preparing to implement prescribed burn projects in and around the Helena and Townsend areas. The areas planned for prescribed burning are part of larger projects that have multiple objectives. These objectives include reintroducing fire to fire adapted ecosystems, improving big game habitat, and strategic placement of treatments to alter fire behavior in the wildland urban interface. Applying fire in a controlled manner will reduce the severity of future wildfires and enhance forage for big game species and other wildlife.

Prescribed fire operations will begin as weather and fuels conditions allow and will continue through winter. Weather elements that are considered prior to ignition of prescribed fire, including burning hand piles, are wind (speed and direction), relative humidity, temperature, snowpack/rainfall, and air mass stability. These factors influence fuel moisture, which is critical to success. Prior to ignition, the latest weather forecast for the day of the burn, along with a 2-3 day weather outlook, is obtained. Smoke/air quality approval is also required through the Montana Airshed Group--a group consisting of federal, state and local government agencies and the forest products industry that manages and limits the impacts of smoke generated from prescribed burning. Smoke modeling will be completed prior to ignition. This modeling combine’s fire behavior with weather information to predict where smoke from burns may be transported.

Helena Ranger District

Prescribed fire units planned for this fall include:

  • Clancy/Unionville Vegetation Manipulation Project south of Helena. These units are located in the Grizzly Gulch area. These treatments have been designed to reduce the threat of large, high intensity wildfire and promote healthy forests and grasslands. With this prescribed burning it is expected that large volumes of smoke will be produced for short periods of time.

  • The Jimtown Road corridor near York. This prescribed fire will be broadcast burning slash. These projects are part of the Jimtown Hazardous Fuels Project, and are designed to reduce the risk of high intensity wildfire in the area.

  • The York/Nelson area northeast of Helena. These prescribed fire units are part of the Beaver Soup Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Project, and are designed to enhance wildlife habitat. Slash piles along the York/Nelson road are also planned to be burned this fall/winter.

  • The north fork of Quartz Creek, near Clancy.Slash piles will be burned to remove fuels accumulated during Roadside Hazard Tree project activities.

  • Slash piles located in the Warm Springs/Willard Creek area south of Montana City will be burned.

  • Scattered slash piles created by firewood gathering activities throughout the District such as the Indian Flats, Favorite Gulch, Chessman Reservoir, Bear Gulch and Orofino Gulch areas.In addition, slash piles created during road maintenance in Hunters Gulch and the Chessman Reservoir area could be burned this fall/winter.

Townsend Ranger District

Prescribed fire units planned for this fall include:

  • Harvest units in the Cabin Gulch Vegetation Project. Harvest units will be burned post-harvest to reduce fine fuels created by harvest activities, and create seed beds to promote regeneration of conifer. These units are located in the North Fork of Deep Creek and Cabin Gulch areas of the Big Belt Mountains east of Townsend.

  • Prescribed fire units in the Pole Creek area of the Elkhorn Mountains are planned to be treated, these units are part of the 1988 Elkhorns Project and are designed to

  • Slash piles created by the Holloway Blowdown cleanup effort.Piles will be burned to remove fuels accumulated during project activities. These piles are in Holloway Gulch of the Big Belt mountains.

  • Scattered slash piles created by firewood gathering activities throughout the District may also be burned this fall and winter, which are mostly adjacent to main roads.

For more information on this fall’s prescribed fire plans or the projects they are associated with, please call Bob Culbreth at 406-495-3883, David Nunn at 406-495-3931, or Michael Kaiser at 406-495-3717. Updates will be shared on the Forest’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/HLCNF/.




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