Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Resource coalition discusses upcoming aerial survey

Mineral Independent | March 13, 2024 12:00 AM

The Mineral County Resource Coalition is a diverse group of citizens who meet regularly to find resolutions to the complex issues facing natural resource management on public lands in Mineral County and other areas in western Montana. 

They support active forest management to improve forest health, maintain water and air quality, reduce the risk of catastrophic fires, restore wildlife and fish habitat, improve recreational opportunities and provide a consistent, reliable and sustainable source of timber for the wood products industry. 

The monthly meeting is held on the first Tuesday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon in the Mineral County Courthouse commissioners room and is open to the public.

A partial portion of the Forest Service report informed the group that they will be reseeding 835 acres from the 2017 fire in Sunrise Creek. It will be a mixture of pine and fir and this will be the last reseeding project for that area that they will be conducting.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said the spring green up is ahead of schedule so aerial surveying will hopefully begin March 20 to count elk and deer in the county. HD 200 is a steep, timber thick and hazardous district to survey so it is done every three years. 

The state agency has been working on the Fish Creek Recreation Plan and the Lolo National Forest Revision. 

Since Chronic Wasting Disease was detected in Region 2 last year, FWP will be responding quickly to reports of ungulates acting sickly or in a strange manner to do what they can to keep the disease from spreading. There are no solutions to eliminate this anywhere nationwide. The hiring of a local game warden is in process.

Representatives for both Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester were present. Both reported that they are working individually and jointly on bills for Montana. 

Tester is focused on farm and agriculture bills. Daines is aware of Tester's work and hope they find a home for the Cottonwood Fix soon. Both senators are also researching the Payment in Lieu of Taxes issue. An example was shared that Missoula County receives over $2 per acre of federal land where Mineral County receives about 20 cents per acre.

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation informed everyone that the timber sale off Mill Creek is about to wrap up and another near the same area is being planned. They have many grants available with deadlines fast approaching to apply.

The Great Burn Conservation Alliance has hired everyone needed for their seasonal crews. Their Noxious Weed Program has expanded and they will have a presentation at the April 2 MCRC meeting to explain the concern. They are preparing for trail restoration work when the snow allows access and explained that this will close some trails to hiking for different periods this summer. And they too are very involved in the Lolo National Forest Revision planning.