The popular Bass Creek Recreation Area will be temporarily closed next week. The Bitterroot National Forest is tentatively scheduling some prescribed burning in the area northwest of Stevensville, beginning Monday, April 12.

Tod McKay of the Bitterroot National Forest said the closure will probably be between two to three days to allow the crews to burn about 250 acres. Because of fire and smoke, the closures will include the Larry Creek trails and horse trailer parking, the Bass Creek Nature Trail and Physical Fitness Trail and Bass Creek Trail #4, including the trailhead. And, as always, the burning is dependent on the weather. If there is a change, the announcement will be made on the Bitterroot National Forest Facebook page, which is a great way to keep up with all the activities on the forest in Ravalli County.

Stevensville District Ranger Steve Brown said, "The reason for the area closure is to provide for the safety of the many visitors at Bass Creek. We hope to re-open the trails and other areas in a few days, following the burn."

Smoke will be visible from nearby US 93 and signs will be posted on roads surrounding the recreation area. The goals of the project include maintaining forest health, improving wildlife habitat and reduce the potential for severe wildfires. If you need more information about the burns, contact the Stevensville Ranger District at 406-777-5461. The office is on the north end of Stevensville's Main Street.

This is part of continuing maintenance of the recreation area, according to McKay. In 2013, a 700-acre thinning project removed trees that were killed by the mountain pine beetle. That project protected some large ponderosa pine trees at Bass Creek.

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