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Thorne Creek Fire salvage project OK'd

by MONTE TURNER
Mineral Independent | September 28, 2022 12:00 AM

On Thursday, July 8, 2021, at approximately 11:10 a.m., during a thunderstorm, a lightning strike ignited dry brush 6 miles north northeast of Thompson Falls and the Thorn Creek Fire was created.

On Oct. 7, it was 100% contained after burning nearly 40,000 acres.

It was a summer that residents will never forget with evacuations, structure loss and thick dense smoke.

Not that many years ago, after a fire of this magnitude, salvage logging would be tied up in red tape for so long that the value of any recoverable timber would be lost. But that’s not the case here.

The Lolo National Forest has issued a decision on the Thorne Creek Fire Salvage Project located on the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District near Thompson Falls. The decision authorizes 548 acres of salvage treatments and 5,000 acres of new tree planting. The salvage will recover commercial value after last year’s fire. Eighty-seven of the 548 acres will also include some commercial thinning of live trees to prevent further insect infestation. The project will occur along the Thompson River County Road (CR 56) and the Liver Ridge Road (NFSR #7657) above the Thompson River.

This area remains a popular local destination for activities such as recreation, firewood collection, mushroom picking, hunting, and forest management. To continue to facilitate and provide access for these activities, the project will remove dead and dying trees along popular motorized routes to mitigate hazards and recover valuable wood product to support the local economy.

“This area continues to be a popular recreation destination despite the impacts of the fire. This project will not only provide wood products to the local economy, but it will also address and mitigate potential hazards along access routes that are heavily used,” stated Dave Wrobleski, Plains/Thompson Falls District Ranger.

“After the sale is complete, planting will occur in these areas to encourage regeneration of the forest.”

Up to 5,000 acres of replanting may occur depending on natural seeding conditions and will happen throughout the Thorne Creek Fire area, focused on areas where future harvest is suitable and on potential recovery of whitebark pine. The project also includes 4 miles of roadside hazard tree mitigation harvest along Liver Ridge Road where the salvage treatments will occur. One-half mile of temporary road will be constructed to access salvage areas.

The Lolo National Forest is now advertising the sale in and implementation will occur as soon as this fall.

For more information, visit the Lolo National Forest Projects Page or call the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District at 406-826-3821. Questions? Contact Kate Jerman, katelyn.jerman@usda.gov Lolo National Forest Issues Decision on Thorne Creek Fire Salvage Project Thompson Falls, Montana.

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