Fire Mitigation Committee 2018 Late Winter Update

Mark Your Calendars! The Fire Mitigation Committee is planning for the North Fork’s 2018 Firewise Day, which will be held the morning of July 18 preceding the Summer Interlocal. The North Fork has been recognized as a Firewise Community since 2006. Come join our Celebration! Byron Bonney will be our featured speaker again. This year he will tell us about the effects of fuels treatments in the area burned by the 2017 Lolo Peak Fire south of Missoula, as well as some effects from the Sunrise Fire near Superior. Byron’s presentation last year focused on the Roaring Lion Fire, and the effects of fuel treatments on fire behavior. The treatments brought fire to the ground and limited the fuels that could be ignited by flying embers. They also improved the chance of survival for neighbors’ homes downwind. We are looking forward to Byron’s report on what he observed at the Lolo Peak and Sunrise Fires, and a look back at some of the fuel treatment “lessons learned” from the Roaring Lion Fire. You can download a copy of the agenda by tapping here.

While funds in our 4th Hazardous Fuels Grant are obligated, a new grant covering the North half of Flathead County has funds available that can be used in the North Fork. The Flathead Economic Policy Center (FEPC) administers the grants and provides landowners and the committee with invaluable technical assistance. Since taking over administration of Hazardous Fuels Grants in the North Fork in 2012 from the Northwest Montana RC&D, FEPC has administered over $153,000 in grants in the North Fork and treated 241 acres with landowner contributions totaling $129,000.

With the retirement of our friend Mason Richwine, a FEPC forester who has worked with many North Fork landowners, Tony Willits will be taking over administration of projects in the North Fork. We look forward to working with Tony, who brings a wealth of forestry and fire experience to the position as did Mason. Bill Swope will continue to work with us, and can be reached at 406-250-9812 or at

Flathead County is continuing to work on revision of its Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The Fire Mitigation Committee expects to update its North Fork Wildfire Mitigation and Planning Report in conjunction with the county’s revision. We’ll need community input in the process. We’ll also need to update maps of the significant public and private work that’s been done on the North Fork since the fires of 2003.