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Lolo Forest OKs Superior North project

by Mineral Independent
| May 8, 2024 12:00 AM

The Lolo National Forest on Friday issued a final decision notice for the Superior North project.

The project is located on the Superior Ranger District between St. Regis and Superior in the Mill, Fourmile, Slowey, Keystone and Pardee Creek drainages, and on the slope above Montana 135 and the “Cutoff” section of the Clark Fork River.

The decision authorizes vegetation and fuel reduction treatments on approximately 13,000 acres (mixture of commercial and non-commercial treatments) and road management activities across the nearly 44,000-acre project area.

The project is located in one of the highest risk firesheds in the nation, Superior #270, and aligns with the USDA Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy that works with partners to protect communities and improve the resilience of America’s Forests, according to a press release from the Lolo Forest. It is also located within the wildland urban interface as defined by the Mineral County Wildfire Protection Plan.

To help the Forest Service implement the Wildfire Crisis Strategy, the Secretary of Agriculture invoked the emergency authority, under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Section 40807), across 250 high risk firesheds in the West in early 2023. The law authorizes the Forest Service to take emergency actions to protect public health and safety, critical infrastructure, and natural resources on Forest Service lands from destructive wildfires.

In September 2023, the Forest Service approved the Superior North Project to be implemented as an Emergency Action Determination project. Under the Emergency Action Determination, the project was not subject to the pre-decisional objection review process allowing the Forest to address forest health and hazardous fuels conditions quickly and responsibly.

“This is the first project on the Lolo to be approved under the Emergency Action Determination,” said Abby Lane, District Ranger of the Superior Ranger District on the Lolo National Forest. “This is an important project to the communities in Mineral and Sanders County in reducing fuels and improving the effectiveness of fire suppression efforts. We look forward to starting implementation this fall and for the benefits the project will bring for years to come.”

Implementation of the project is planned to begin this fall and will utilize a variety of management tools such as timber harvest, prescribed burning, and non-commercial mechanical vegetation treatments.

Due to the existing landscape conditions and proximity to communities at-risk, the Superior North project includes strategically placed vegetation treatments to slow fire spread and reduce fire intensity, increasing the options for effective fire suppression actions.

For more information on the Superior North Project and to review the Final Decision Notice, visit fs.usda.gov/projects/lolo/landmanagement/projects.