Forest Service plans spring burning in Frenchtown, Sixmile, Petty Creek

The prescribed burns will be ignited only if weather, smoke dispersal and fuel moisture conditions are all within safe parameters. (USFS)

By Missoula Current

The Ninemile Ranger District, as part of its seasonal prescribed burning to reduce fuels, promote vegetation regeneration and enhance habitat for multiple species, may conduct burning over the next two weeks if weather, fuel conditions and air quality allow.

The prescribed burns are associated with the Frenchtown Face Ecosystem Restoration Project and the Petty Creek Big Game Ecosystem Management Burning Project.

Here’s a look at the U.S. Forest Service’s plans:

Roman/Mill Creek drainages:  1 mile north of Frenchtown.

This unit is located between the Roman and Mill Creek drainages and is about 50 acres in size.  The project is focused on restoring forest and habitat conditions in ponderosa pine and Douglas fir stands located in yearlong wild turkey habitat in the Frenchtown Face Management Area.

The burning will be implemented through collaborative efforts with the Ninemile Ranger District and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Additionally, this project will reduce fuels in close proximity and adjacent to private property

Firefighters will use hand ignition to start this prescribed burn.  The area is located north of Interstate 90 and smoke from the burn will be visible from I-90, Frenchtown and Missoula.

Sixmile Creek Drainage: 6 miles northwest of Frenchtown.

This unit is located in the Sixmile Creek drainage and is about 110 acres in size.  This project is an ecosystem maintenance burn to reintroduce fire back to the landscape and maintain and restore habitat conditions located in yearlong big game and wild turkey habitat in the Frenchtown Face Management Area.

The burning is a collaborative effort between the Ninemile Ranger District, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Firefighters will use both hand and aerial ignition.  The area is located north of Interstate 90, and smoke from the burn will be visible from the interstate, Frenchtown and Missoula.

Petty Creek, Horse Creek Drainage:  5-8 miles south of Interstate 90.

This planned burn is in Horse Creek and is scheduled for hand and aerial ignition across 315 acres.

The goal is to reintroduce fire into the ecosystem, reduce fuel accumulations adjacent to private property, and enhance wildlife habitat for big game species and upland game birds.

The burn is a collaborative effort between the Ninemile Ranger District, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Wild Sheep Foundation and the Mule Deer Foundation.  Smoke will be visible to residents of Petty Creek and the I-90 corridor.

All burning will be weather and fuel condition dependent. If ignition takes place, the Forest Service may temporarily limit public access in these areas.  For public safety, recreationists are asked to be aware of prescribed fire crews and vehicles in these areas.

Prescribed fire road signs will be posted where burning is taking place.

If members of the public have any questions or if you would like to be placed on a day-of-burning notification list, they may contact the Ninemile Ranger District at 626-5201.