Once-in-a-Decade Forest Plan Sets Sights On Wildfire, Disease And The Economy

By / Nick Mott

Before leaving office, Gov. Bullock finalized a document that will guide forestry and logging projects in Montana for the next decade. Montana Public Radio’s Nick Mott has more from just south of Livingston. 

I’m driving an icy, gravel road in the Paradise Valley where private land meets the Absaroka Mountains. So on my left are rolling hills of grasses and shrubs and on my right are pine trees. I’m in one patch of about 3.8 million acres, mostly in western Montana, designated as “priority landscape” in the Montana Forest Action Plan, or MFAP. That means relatively low-lying forests prone to wildfire risk and other forest health issues, near roads and property.

Definitely a lot of fuel here. As in fuel for wildfire. Land managers for decades tried to extinguish all wildfire from the landscape — even though it’s a natural part of the ecosystem. That dousing of fire led to a buildup of potential kindling in forests.