080316-mis-nws-marshall-woods (copy)

Hikers walk on a trail through part of the Marshall Woods restoration project in the Rattlesnake Creek trail corridor last year. Prescribed burns are set to begin this week on the slash and brush piles.

Wildfire season has ended, but prescribed burning may begin on Monday in the Rattlesnake National Recreation area north of Missoula.

About 300 piles of slash and brush along the main Rattlesnake 515 trail and both sides of Woods Gulch are scheduled to burn this fall as part of the Marshall Woods project in the Lolo National Forest. Burning should take place at 5 acres to 50 acres at a time, according to forest spokesman Boyd Hartwig.

Most of the piles were stacked in 2016 and left to dry out until now, Hartwig said. After the piles are removed, the project may attempt more extensive underburning of the forest floor.

“Depending on weather conditions, smoke from the burning could be visible from Interstate 90 and the greater Missoula Valley,” Hartwig said in an email. “All burning will be weather- and fuel-condition dependent. If ignition takes place, there is potential the burning could limit public access in this area.”

Prescribed fire signs will be posted at the main Rattlesnake trailhead and horse trailhead, as well as parts of the forest where burning takes place.

For more information, please contact the Missoula Ranger District at 406-329-3750.

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