2012 Fuels Reduction Grant update

As of late August, 2012, fifteen North Fork landowners have signed cost-share agreements under the North Fork’s third hazardous fuels reduction grant.  A total of $53,465 has been obligated.  The total amount of the grant is approximately $100,000.  The Fire Mitigation Committee encourages landowners who are interested in participating in the program to apply.  The expiration for the grant is September 30, 2014. For more information, download the NW Montana Hazardous Fuels: Landowners’ Guide to Cost-Share Funding from here

Stewardship, forest health and fuels reduction workshop

This workshop, sponsored by the Fire Mitigation Committee, was held on July 11th at Sondreson Hall. Neighbors shared their successes at land management and the DNRC talked about the North Fork’s new fuels reduction grant and what has been achieved on the North Fork under previous grants.

Three North Forkers made presentations during the workshop that included some great pictures of their land management at different stages. They have agreed to let us post their presentations on the website. You can download each of the presentations in PDF format from below, but be aware that some of them are pretty large files due to the embedded images.

Landowners’ Guide to Cost ­Share Funding

The treatment of hazardous fuels is one of the most proactive ways to reduce potential loss of life and property in the event of a wildland fire. By following Firewise™ practices, creating defensible space, and treating fuels, you can lower your fire risk while increasing the chances that fire protection agencies can effectively deal with a wildland fire should it occur. Cost-share funding is available now in some areas to help landowners with the cost of reducing their hazardous fuels.

For more information, download the NW Montana Hazardous Fuels: Landowners’ Guide to Cost-Share Funding from here.

3rd Fuels Reduction Grant

The DNRC has awarded a hazardous fuels reduction grant to the North Fork community, its third such grant since the Wedge Canyon and Robert fires in 2003.  According to a DNRC spokesperson, “the North Fork project received priority in the grant selection process due in part to the demonstrated willingness of landowners to collaborate in combining treatments across the landscape.”  Over 100 North Fork landowners have participated in the two previous grant programs.  Many of their projects have benefited multiple landowners.

Approximately $100,000 in funds will be available for mitigation activities under the grant.  Monies will be distributed on a cost-share basis, with the grant providing 75% of the cost of an agreed-upon project and the landowner providing the remaining 25%, in cash or in kind.  Allowable activities include thinning, brush piling, chipping, prescribed burning, pruning, right-of-way vegetation management and education about defensible space.  The total value of the grant, with landowners’ share, is about $133,000.

An application to participate in the grant program is enclosed with the newsletter.  A copy also may be downloaded from here on the Fire Mitigation Committee page on the NFLA web site.  A landowner may simply opt for a free home wildfire evaluation, without further involvement in the program.

The Flathead Economic Policy Center (FEPC) will administer the grant which unless extended, terminates on September 30, 2014.

Firewise USA

The North Fork’s membership in FireWise Communities USA has been renewed for 2012, based on our efforts in 2011. The North Fork has been a member of FireWise since 2006.
One of the requirements for membership is an annual FireWise Day. Last year’s FireWise Day featured a workshop and field trip on forest insects and disease, and their relationship to wildfire.

Members of the Fire Mitigation Committee are planning the North Fork’s 2012 FireWise Day. The event will be held from 9:30a.m. to noon on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 in Sondreson Hall, immediately preceding the Summer Inter Local meeting. The subject this year will be “Stewardship, Forest Health and Hazardous Fuels Reduction.”

Firesafe Montana

The Fire Mitigation Committee has applied for membership in FireSafe Montana, with a waiver of annual dues. The committee anticipates that FireSafe will assist us with our 2012 FireWise Day.

FireSafe is sponsoring a conference at the QuaTukNuk in Polson on April 9 – 10, 2010. The theme of the conference is “Responsible Wildfire Preparedness: How FireSafe Councils Can Help.” The conference will give participants an opportunity to learn about the latest research findings, management innovations and best practices in Montana. North Fork landowners are encouraged to attend.

Fire Mitigation Report, Sept. 2011

The DNRC recently notified the Fire Mitigation Committee that its grant proposal had been approved and that funding authority had been secured.  The amount of the grant is approximately $99,600.  As with previous grants, monies will be disbursed on a cost-share basis, with the grant providing 75% of the cost of treatment and the landowner providing 25%.  Landowner contributions may be “in-kind.”  The total value of the grant, including landowners’ share, is approximately $133,000.

The DNRC will send the committee a proposed agreement for consideration; the grant is not final until a signed agreement is in hand.  Tentatively, Angela Mallon of the DNRC will attend the June 2012 NFLA meeting to explain the program.  Also tentatively, the Flathead Economic Policy Center will administer the grant.

The committee has been in touch with the Executive Director of FireSafe Montana.  The North Fork is a member of FireSafe; the organization waived payment of dues for the current year.  FireSafe is willing and able to assist the Fire Mitigation Committee with its annual FireWise Day if asked to do so.  The brochures that FireSafe provided earlier in the year are still available in Sondreson Hall.

Grant possibility

The North Fork applied for a Western States fuels mitigation grant in 2010, part of a consortium of communities.  The application was rejected and the Fire Mitigation Committee decided to look into the possibility of a applying for a stand-alone grant for the North Fork.

This spring, committee members have discussed grant possibilities informally with the DNRC.  The agency determines grant funding in Montana.  Basically, any new grant would continue our successful cost-share fuels mitigation program.   Committee members are cautiously optimistic about our chances, if any monies become available.

Firesafe Montana

Firesafe Montana is a non-profit organization that helps to educate Montana communities about wildfire.   Its executive director attended the Fire Mitigation Committee meeting in April, 2011 to explain the program.  He offered to waive the membership fee for one year to enable North Fork landowners to become familiar with Firesafe and what it can do for us.  The NFLA Board of Directors accepted the offer.

Federal and State Projects

Larry Roberts of LTL Forestry purchased the Forest Service’s “Red Dwarf” project last February.  The project will reduce fuels and improve ingress and egress along East Red Meadow Drive.  The contractor will begin work in July and must complete it by August.

The Red Whale project has been split into several parts.   The Forest Service will do some precommercial thinning under contracts and some with its own forces.  The commercial portions of the project will be sold through two stewardship contracts.  The first contract will be awarded this spring; work will begin in July.  The second contract will be awarded the end of June.

Harvesting on the DNRC’s North Fork X 2 timber sale project was completed last winter.  Anticipated actions this summer and fall include final blading, reclamation  and grass seeding of roads; slashing some of the saplings and logging damage in the harvest units; and piling and burning of slash.

The DNRC is completing its environmental assessment of a project on the Coal Creek State Forest.  It’s possible but unlikely that there will be some logging activity this fall.  Road reconstruction work on the Coal Creek Road slump is scheduled to take place in early September, 2011.