Montana: Comment on Lolo NF post fire road removal plan that’s been stalled for six years

Forest officials Friday began soliciting public comment on Post-Burn
Roads 2000, a project they say would help fish and wildlife by
stabilizing some roads, removing about 55 miles of roads and put 95
miles in “storage.” The roads are in several areas that together
burned 74,000 acres of the 2.1 million-acre Lolo forest.

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Most of the roads covered by the proposal were part of a larger
post-fire plan that received Forest Service approval in 2002, then was
challenged in court. That plan included logging in and around burned
areas, action criticized by environmental activists who said the
agency inadequately considered salvage logging’s potential harm to
soil and old-growth forest habitat. A relatively small number of trees
identified for removal were logged and the rest have remained in the
forest, where wind or heavy snow topple them and they will decompose
over time, Sam Redfern, a Lolo National Forest program officer, said

Firewood cutters have removed some of the wood, Redfern
said.Barb Beckes, a forest officer working on Post-Burn Roads 2000,
said that the roads identified for closure no longer are needed for
forest management, such as access during wildfires. Removing those
roads would include taking out culverts and seeding the routes.Roads
designated for storage also would be seeded and their culverts
removed, but unlike closed roads, they could be reopened for travel
without the need for a new decision under the National Environmental
Policy Act. The Forest Service said the project would improve fish
habitat by reducing sediment that can be carried off of dirt roads and
into water, and would improve security for deer and elk by making some
blocks of land inaccessible to motorized vehicles.

Beckes said some of the roads already are gated and accessible only for management purposes, and she foresees little impact on public access. Matthew Koehler of Missoula’s Wild West Institute said that organization, which includes the former Ecology Center, one of the groups that sued the Forest Service, has long supported the idea of road work in the Lolo forest. “The concern was about the logging,” Koehler said. “We’re happy that the Forest Service wants to move forward with that (road) work and that it’s an area of common ground.”

Comments (2)

yossiDecember 29th, 2009 at 2:13 pm

removals as love the pictures and apriciate the land scape ans our removals in London use only green vans

man with vanFebruary 5th, 2010 at 9:10 am

very good article, thanks for taking the time

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