U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senator Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte today applauded the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announcement that they will sign the Sheep Gap Fire Salvage Project located on the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest in Sanders County. Under the approved Emergency Situation Determination (ESD), the Lolo National Forest is able to expedite timber sales for the Sheep Gap project during the fall of 2018.
“Last year’s fires harmed communities and devastated forest landscapes in places like Sanders County,” Daines said. “This critical project will restore areas on the Lolo National Forest impacted by last year’s Sheep Gap Fire while supporting good-paying Montana timber jobs.”
“The U.S. Forest Service is using common sense management practices and acting quickly to mitigate the damage from the Sheep Gap Fire,” Gianforte said. “This project will help restore the natural habitat, help Montana timber workers, and boost the local economy as we recover from last year’s devastating fire season.”
This month, Daines and Gianforte announced the approval of two salvage and restoration projects in Montana: the West Fork Salvage on July 2nd and Restoration Project and the Cub Creek Fire Salvage Project on July 19th.
Daines recently filed an amendment during consideration of the Farm Bill in the U.S. Senate to further encourage the USFS to carry out salvage and other urgent actions using ESDs in response to fires and other emergencies in Montana’s national forests. Gianforte secured an amendment in the House-passed Farm Bill to allow for large-scale expedited salvage operations that requires reforestation of at least 75 percent of the burned area.
On May 24, 2018, Daines sent a letter to USFS Interim Chief Vicki Christiansen, requesting immediate action on the National Forest System lands in Montana impacted by the 2017 wildfires.
Statements of support:
Honorable Bob Brown, State Representative, Montana House District 13: “This project is the right thing to do. It’s important to salvage as much timber as we can and as quickly as we can in those areas that have been damaged. Thanks to Senator Daines and Congressman Gianforte for your work in securing ESDs.”
Honorable Denley Lodge, State Representative, Montana House District 14: “I’m very pleased because of the economic impact it will give the community. It will also help clean up and maintain a safer and healthier forest into the future. I thank Senator Daines and Congressman Gianforte for advocating for ESD’s in Northwest Montana.”
- The Sheep Gap Fire began on Aug. 29, 2017 that burned approximately 25,000 acres including roughly 19,700 acres on National Forest System land.
- Of the 19,700 acres of NFS land affected, 10,638 acres burned at very high to high severity. In the high severity burned areas, nearly all trees were killed.
- The Sheep Gap Fire Salvage project will occur on the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District in Sanders County approximately four miles west of the Town of Plains, MT.
- The agency proposes to harvest approximately 2,650 acres of salvage totaling an estimated 22 million board feet of timber.
- The project is estimated to provide nearly 200 part and full time jobs and roughly $6.7 million in estimated labor income.