Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Rachel Feigley
Seeley Lake District Ranger, Lolo National Forest 

Seeley Lake Ranger District update


October 25, 2018

Autumn is here and the Seeley Lake Ranger District is finalizing summer seasonal fieldwork. The upcoming winter season presents a shift in focus but a steady pace of work continues. This update is meant to keep you informed of what is occurring on your National Forest.

The summer operating season began with responding to spring flooding events affecting many roads across the Seeley Lake Ranger District. In addition, the treatments recommended in the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) assessments were completed. These treatments included culvert upsizing, trail reestablishment and noxious weed treatment. In addition, road work in preparation for salvage log haul was completed and Morrell Bridge repair has been completed.

Vegetation treatment for both the Lake Alva and Big Larch campgrounds has been completed. Forest Health Protection and Forest timber and silviculture specialists recommended the treatments be completed. Unfortunately, developed recreation sites are not static over time and need to be managed. These areas used overnight by Forest visitor families have been cleared of hazardous trees and made safe and set up for the future success.

The replacement of the Big Larch boat launch has begun. The new boat launch will provide a boat ‘prep’ lane, improve overall road geometry and serve two lanes with a functional boat dock.

We continued our prescribed burning this fall in the Horseshoe West, Auggie and Colt Summit project areas. We greatly appreciate your support as we implement prescribed fire projects to meet multiple objectives, most importantly of which is reducing fuel in our wildland urban interface (WUI).

Our annual reporting of recreation, wilderness, trails and noxious weeds volunteer and partner work on the District indicated a robust volunteer and partnership program. A huge thank you go to 91 volunteers for 10,950 hours, valued at $270,355.50. Partner organizations involved include: Backcountry Horseman, Montana Conversation Corps, Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, National Smokejumper Association, Montana Wilderness Association, Driftriders Snowmobile Club, Seeley Lake Nordic Ski Club, 11 individual campground hosts and one noxious weeds volunteer.

Five post-fire salvage sales from both the Liberty and Rice Ridge wildfires have been awarded. These salvage sales will reduce hazard trees along roads threatening safety, contribute to employment in our local communities and avoid loss of commodity value, and re-establish forested conditions to meet management objectives outlined in the Forest Plan.

Logging activity may begin this fall with hauling potentially occurring during the winter season. We will keep you informed of any salvage hauling-related coordination needs due to impacts on snowmobile trails and other winter recreation.

Seasonal hunting road closures began Oct. 15. Please check our free Motor Vehicle Use Map or call our front desk for information.

While project work continues at the District level, many efforts are occurring at the Regional and National level. Recently, a conceptual framework for making strategic investments across landscapes or shared stewardship has become a new strategy to prioritize investment decisions on forest treatments in direct coordination with states using the most advanced science tools. This will allow the Forest Service to increase the scope and scale of critical forest treatments that protect communities and create resilient forests. More information may be found here:

Lastly, the District is experiencing some local personnel changes.

Recreation staff employee Katie Knotek has transferred to the Missoula Ranger District. We are seeking to fill that position along with a Recreation Management Specialist position that has been vacant since last spring.

Wildlife biologist Scott Tomson has been on detail (temporary assignment) and will return early December. We have brought in two detailers to fill behind these key positions until the recreation positions are filled permanently and Scott returns to the district.

We will continue to provide information using the Pathfinder, the Seeley Lake Ranger District webpage, as well as Lolo National Forest Facebook posts. For more information, please call the Seeley Lake Ranger Station at 677-2233 or simply drop in at the Ranger Station!

To our health,

Rachel Feigley


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