Thursday, January 27, 2022

Resource committee discusses local timber projects

Mineral Independent | January 12, 2022 12:00 AM

The monthly Mineral County Resource Committee meeting that was held in the county commissioners conference room Jan. 4 was close to a 50-50 split with in-person and Zoom participants. It was even mentioned that so many people are "zoomed-out" and attending meetings in person is much more productive.

Carole Johnson, Superior District Ranger, reported logs are still coming out of Johnson Camp and Second Chance with a portion of them going to the Idaho Forest Group mill in Grangeville, Idaho.

Thompson River Lumber is starting to move some of their equipment out of Cedar South and Barber Sales as they finish up the winter season. She said that the Quartz Flat Campground will have a contract out soon for bidding as it’s taking longer than anticipated to protect all the improvements that have been done this past year to the rest area.

“We’ll have to have some really good cleanup in there because this is beetle kill and we need to be sure we get this done correctly,” she said.

Johnson went on to explain new positions people were being moved into around the region.

“Many folks have taken short-term assignments virtually rather than physically moving to the location which has given opportunities and more experience to people in this district.”

Brooke Lincoln, owner of the $50,000 Silver Bar and Casino in Haugan reported the snow depth is immense and the snowmobilers are coming in from Washington and Idaho.

“The trail groomers went out last week and sawed over 250 trees in less than 100 miles that had fallen into the snowmobile trails. As they doubled back, trees had fallen behind them. They had to saw their way out,” she reported on the gigantic amounts of snow in the west end.

She advised people to be careful and even take their chainsaw as they might need it to get back to their trailers.

A group discussion initiated by the DNRC informed everyone on a committee from the Montana Forest Action Plan that is starting to strategize on how local efforts can pull together resources for protecting communities and treating forest health at a higher level. Consider projects that reach across government agency boundaries that should be on the table as there is federal funding to support these this year.

The fires in Colorado and California the past summers have put wildland fire fighting into a different era and things are changing so this money is to be used to step-up fire suppression and public safety.

A county forum summit targeted for commissioners will be held, tentatively, April 14-15 in Helena with the infrastructure strategy being a big part of the conference. This, too, was developed from the catastrophic fires in recent years to prepare homeowners and communities as several areas that were disintegrated were not in forests so preparing for different landscapes is a key topic.

Angelo Ververis with Idaho Forest Group suggested developing a sub-committee from the MCRC to start brainstorming on potential scenarios and needs for planning purposes to be ahead of the funding that will soon become available. Several agreed with a factor being the new homes built in isolated areas by many people new to the area that have little concept for fire safety when living in the wildlands.

The Recreation Committee of the MCRC is chaired by Diane Magone, and she reported that through a grant, they are working on getting two vault toilets installed at the St. Regis Park which will not only serve the park, but the Great American Trail. They have also started the Mineral County Rails-to-Trails organization as Magone is working on the 501C (3) application. There are donors ready to support the program but will hold off until the state deems them as a non-profit. They are currently investigating a safe route though Mineral County for bicyclists coming through as some of the bridges are spooky on I-90 with very narrow shoulders.

The MCRC is open to the public with meetings held on the 1st Tuesday from 10 to noon. The next meeting will be on February 2 and James ‘Jamie” Jonkel, FWP Region 2 Bear Manager will be a keynote speaker.

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