Fire Mitigation Committee Report, Late Winter 2017

The Fire Mitigation Committee is planning for the North Fork’s 2017 Firewise Day, which probably will be held the morning of July 19, preceding the Summer Interlocal. Byron Bonney will be our featured speaker.  He has been instrumental in working with landowners on hazardous fuels treatments in the Bitterroot. We expect him to tell us about the effects of those treatments in the area burned by the Roaring Lion Fire last summer. Although many homes were destroyed in the fire, almost all of the homes whose owners had created defensible space around them were spared. 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. So as you’ll hear at the workshop, the fire provided important corroboration of the value of defensible space.

We have at least $10,000 left in our 4th hazardous fuels grant, with about 55 acres already treated and 35 in process. So far, landowners and community members have provided over $80,000 in cash match and in-kind labor. Special thanks goes to Flathead County, which donated almost $8000 in equipment and labor for chipping the slash that resulted from our Trail Creek Project. The Fire Mitigation Committee probably will apply for a 5th grant if it has the opportunity.

The Flathead Economic Policy Center administers the grants and provides landowners and the committee with invaluable technical assistance. We’ve just learned that our friend Mason Richwine, a FEPC forester who has worked with many North Fork landowners, is retiring in order to concentrate on hunting and fishing. We wish him success.  Bill Swope will continue to work with us.

Flathead County is launching another 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.

Finally, the DNRC is sponsoring a multi-media presentation on the Era of Mega-Fires in Kalispell this Spring. The presentation will be held on Tuesday April 25 from 6 – 8 p.m. at Flathead Valley Community College, Arts & Technology Room 139.  We understand that the program is compelling.

Published by

Molly Shepherd

Molly Shepherd is the Co-Chairperson of the Fire Mitigation Committee and a past President of the NFLA.