Swan Valley events
look at wildfires
in forest communities

May 10, 2001
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana

Two Swan Valley events May 15 will focus on wildfire in forest communities and creating "survivable" space around homesites.

The public is invited at noon to help develop a Firewise forest at the U.S. Forest Service Condon Work Center. The demonstration site, planned cooperatively by Swan Ecosystem Center and the Forest Service, will help people learn how to increase the odds that their homesites will survive a wildfire.

Local residents can join Forest Service and State fire personnel in a hands-on learning process. As a group, participants will discuss ladder fuels, canopy fires and wind driven events in forest communities.

People will learn about proper tree spacing, understory flame lengths and how high to lop branches off trees near their homes. They will tie ribbons around the ponderosa pines and other trees on the demonstration site that are most likely to withstand fire, marking those trees to save.

The planned thinning is scheduled to occur later this year, or in early 2002, after completion of a National Environmental Policy Act assessment and public involvement process.

At a Swan Citizens' Ad Hoc Committee meeting from 7-9 p.m. on May 15, topics will include fire in a managed forest and creating survivable space around a homesite.

Chris Tootell, service forestry bureau chief, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, will describe the effects of a fire last year in a New Mexico forest. He will compare how fire burned in a stand he had previously thinned and in an adjacent untreated area.

Matt Arno, a Missoula restoration forester, will tell how he recently helped a Swan Valley couple create survivable space around their home.

Anne Dahl, Swan Ecosystem Center, will describe the nonprofit group's fire education plans for 2002, including the fire demonstration forest, guest speakers, exhibits and a June 16 tour of last year's Bitterroot Valley fires.

On a different topic, Ranger Chuck Harris, Swan Lake Ranger District, will talk about the temporary closing and upgrading of the Holland Lake Campground this summer.

For further information call Swan Ecosystem Center, 406/754-3137.