A series of workshop meetings throughout Ravalli County will help the Bitterroot National Forest (BNF)design a project that takes a large look at forest management in the "Bitterroot Front Project." Tod McKay, BNF Public Affairs Officer, said much of each evening will be focused on the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) along the west side of the valley, where development has increased exponentially. McKay said, "Headwater Economics in the last year that said in the last two decades, 90 percent of new homes in Ravalli County - that's almost 7,000 homes - were built in the Wildland Urban Interface and in the high fire danger area." Of the 150,000 acres along the Bitterroot Front, 50,000 acres is within the WUI area.

Byron Bonney, forester of the Bitter Root RC&D, will talk about the fire impacts on WUI homeowners. He has been helping private landowners manage their forest land to lower fire risk. McKay said after the presentations, the public can get into smaller group discussions concerning everything from fire risks to recreation and public access. The first meeting was held in Darby recently. The other meetings (one per week) are listed below:

All "Bitterroot Front Project" meetings will be 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

  • Tuesday, October 22 - Stevensville Westside Fire Station 156 Kinsman Drive.
  • Tuesday, October 29 - Corvallis Fire Station, 317 Woodside Cutoff Road.
  • Tuesday, November 5 - Florence-Carlton Old Gym, 5602 Old US 93.
  • Tuesday, November 12 - Bitterroot River Inn, Tammany Room, 139 Bitterroot Plaza Drive, Hamilton.
  • McKay said partners in the project include Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Bitter Root RC&D and Natural Resources and Conservation Services. Information from the meetings could also help in developing goals of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, Bitterroot Community Wildfire Protection Plan, Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership and the 1987 Bitterroot National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.