CUSTER GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST

WEST YELLOWSTONE – The Custer Gallatin National Forest is seeking public comment through Feb. 10 on the North Hebgen Multiple Resource project, which aims to reduce fire hazard and mitigate disturbance effects. A variety of vegetation management treatments are being considered in the Teepee drainage, along with drainages on the north side of Hebgen Lake, as well as along a portion of U.S. Highway 191 from Teepee Creek south to Duck Creek and west to the Horse Butte peninsula.

An open house and field tour was held Jan. 27 to familiarize people with the proposed landscape level project area. The integrated project encompasses 73,250 acres, of which approximately 8,200 acres are proposed for treatment. This would include thinning followed by piling, burning, chopping and/or masticating natural and activity fuels or possibly prescribed burning.

Stands in the area are susceptible to dangerous and damaging fire behavior due to the combination of surface fuel loading and continuous vegetation into the canopy, known as ladder and crown fuels. A variety of treatments are designed to reduce surface, ladder and crown fuels, such as thinning and group selection harvest.

Focused around several housing subdivisions and essential infrastructure, and in the Tepee drainage, treatments are proposed to improve public and firefighter safety. This would be achieved by reducing fuel in the wildland/urban interface; enhancing wildlife habitat by revitalizing aspen and whitebark pine; improving public and wildlife safety by opening up visibility near the Rainbow Point Campground and along Highway 191; and increasing forest health and resiliency.

Portions of the treatment area would be thinned, decreasing competition for key species such as whitebark pine and Douglas fir. Aspen stands would be opened up, reducing the conifer encroachment, increasing vigor and the likelihood of natural sprouting amongst these habitats. Along U.S. Highway 191 sight distance will be improved through thinning, helping to alleviate wildlife and vehicle collisions common in the area.

Mountain pine beetle, western spruce budworm, lodgepole pine dwarf mistletoe, Douglas fir beetle and white pine blister rust are also of concern in the project area. These natural and introduced disturbance factors can have a significant impact in similar or uniform age class species. A variety of treatments are planned to increase resiliency to insect and disease in some stands, and to reduce or eliminate presence of damaging agents in other stands.

Send comments to: comments-northern-gallatin@fs.fed.us; subject line North Hebgen Integrated Vegetation Management Project, with commenter’s name, address and contact number. Comments are considered part of public record.

To download and read project documents visit online at: fs.usda.gov/gallatin.