Forest Service releases Decision for Liberty II Fire Salvage Project

November 8, 2019

Forest Service releases Decision for Liberty II Fire Salvage Project

SEELEY LAKE, MT. - The Forest Service released the Decision Memo for the Liberty II Fire Salvage project, located on the Seeley Lake Ranger District approximately 10 miles southwest of Seeley Lake, MT within the 2017 Liberty Fire burned area. The objectives of the Liberty II Fire Salvage project are to improve the recovery, health, and resiliency of forest vegetation, and support the economic vitality of local communities.

In 2017, the Liberty Fire burned 28,686 acres across multiple jurisdictions including 9,440 acres of National Forest System Lands. Initial salvage operations immediately following 2017 resulted in the harvest of approximately 186 acres of salvage timber from the burned area. The Liberty II Fire Salvage project is a follow-up to that initial effort, specifically targeting insect-infested trees.

This Decision authorizes the proposed action to harvest dead, dying, insect-infested, and diseased trees on 484 acres through timber harvest and non-commercial vegetation treatments. Additionally, the Decision would authorize existing road improvements and also validate and reinforce planting activities within the project area previously authorized by the separate Liberty Fire Salvage Decision/project in 2018. No new road construction will take place with this project.

“This decision reflects an important step forward on the Seeley Lake Ranger District as we continue to address and respond to the impacts of the 2017 fire season. This project has helped to refine and define how we collaborate on projects with our stakeholders. I am looking forward to continuing to improve engagement and communication with the community and partners on other projects in the future,” said Seeley Lake District Ranger, Quinn Carver.

The project was presented to local stakeholders prior to public scoping and conversations with these stakeholders resulted in incorporating design features into the proposed action. Design features include winter-only harvest to limit impacts to public access and impacts to wildlife. Additional project design criteria also includes restricting equipment entry into some sensitive soils. The proposed activities would likely begin in winter of 2019-2020 and be completed within one year.

Project Outreach Background:

Prior to scoping, information about this project was presented to Seeley Lake Community Council, Southwest Crown of the Continent, Blackfoot Challenge, and various individuals in Seeley Lake and Ovando, MT, during the spring of 2019 and throughout the summer. Scoping for this project occurred on Sept. 23, 2019. Due to initial public and stakeholder feedback received, the District Ranger extended the scoping period for an additional seven days for a combined total of 14 days of public feedback opportunity. During that time, 14 comment letters were received. Both scoping letter comments and responses to comments are included in Appendix C of the Decision Memo, available on the Lolo National Forest website at .



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