A note from Molly Shepherd of the NFLA’s Fire Mitigation Committee . . .
Our Firewise USA membership has been renewed, thanks to the efforts of North Fork landowners and our agency partners.
We had a phenomenal year: $132, 544 total “investment,” reflecting both hours and expenses contributed by the North Fork community. Our required minimum Investment was $12,240. The value of our investment per dwelling unit was $294.54; we were required to have a minimum of $27.20, or $1 per dwelling unit.
The Hay Creek fire, and encouraging people to submit their Firewise-qualifying hours and expenses, accounted for our higher numbers this year. I suspect that many hours weren’t reported, however.
Thank you all for your contributions and your support of the North Fork’s Firewise program. And have a happy Thanksgiving!
In order to maintain membership in Firewise USA, North Fork landowners must make an annual investment in wildfire risk reduction efforts. We’re required to calculate the number of hours spent in Firewise-qualifying activities, and the expenses associated with those activities.
A summary of some of Firewise-qualifying activities and expenses follows:
Collaboration and consultation time with forestry and fire experts
Organizing, planning, coordinating, implementing wildfire-related outreach events and educational presentations
Program administration time
Travel time to risk reduction meetings, trainings, and workshops
Attendance at wildfire-related education/informational meetings and events and at evacuation/preparedness trainings
Firewise improvements and maintenance on homes and outbuildings
Improvements and maintenance within the home ignition zone — for example, thinning or limbing up trees, reducing ladder fuels, dealing with slash and other debris, moving firewood piles
Vegetation removal; community clean-up
Committee members attendance and participation at Firewise committee meetings
Residents’ attendance and participation at wildfire education/outreach events
Writing wildfire educational articles
Qualifying expenses include equipment and tool purchases; mileage at the current IRS rate for attendance at wildfire-related meetings and trainings; purchases of food for meetings/trainings; contractor and labor expenses to perform risk reduction work; and the value of volunteer labor participating in risk reduction projects.
The Fire Mitigation Committee asks North Fork landowners to add up the number of hours they have spent in qualifying activities as well as the expenses they have incurred from November 1, 2020, to October 31, 2021. Please email your total hours and expenses to Molly Shepherd, firstname.lastname@example.org. Your hours and expenses will be included in applying for renewal of the North Fork’s membership in Firewise USA.
Flathead National Forest just put out a press release listing the prescribed burns planned for this fall. The only entry concerning the North Fork is…
Red Whale Fuels Reduction – Approximately 750 acres will be targeted for prescribed burning this fall in Moose creek and Moran creek. This project location is in the North Fork of the Flathead about four miles northwest of Polebridge. Depending on weather this burn is planned for mid to late September to early October. The purpose of this project is to help restore a more historical fire regime to the ecosystem, improve wildlife habitat and reduce hazardous fuels to reduce wildfire risk and aid in potential future fire suppression efforts, and improve wildlife habitat.
According to Andy Huntsberger, our District Fire Management Officer, “…it is very unlikely that we will be doing any burning besides piles on Glacier View District this fall. The window for activity fuels and ecosystem burning will probably close after next week and our priorities will be in the Southfork. I’m not saying it won’t happen but I am saying it is very unlikely. “
Here is the Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for September, October, November. As you all are aware, we turned a corner in mid-August in the North Fork with the moisture we received. A big change that significantly slowed the fire season for us. And the good news is that we are forecast to continue to be a “normal” fire season through September, October and November. Plus, with a La Nina forecast for Montana this winter, you all need to be tuning up your snowblowers and getting your firewood laid in.
While that is good news for Northwest Montana, Oregon and Washington will continue to be busy through September, Northern California gets no relief until December. Grim.
According to District Fire Management Officer Andy Huntsberger, there’s nothing going on with the Hay Creek Fire — not even any smoke. If you saw a helicopter buzzing around yesterday, it was picking up a radio communications repeater from Numa Peak that was used during firefighting efforts.
The evacuation warning for the Hay Creek Fire was lifted by the Flathead Country Sheriff on August 18, 2021. The current Type 3 incident management team will transition to a local Type 4 incident command from the Flathead National Forest on Saturday, August 21 at 0700. Hungry Horse-Glacier View Fire Management will maintain resources on the Hay Creek Fire for the foreseeable future. Crews will continue to cleanup and rehab the fire area.
The last public meeting was held on August 19. There are no more public meetings currently planned.
Here’s the latest Hay Creek Fire Public Information Map showing fire extent, closures and current evacuation zone boundaries . . .
Unless there’s a significant change in the fire’s status, this map will be updated much less often — if at all — as the Hay Creek Fire winds down. By August 21, Hay Creek Fire operations will be transferred to a local Type 4 team based out of the Hungry-Horse-Glacier View District. From that point, information on the fire will be coming directly from the Flathead National Forest.