KALISPELL – Where there’s smoke in the Flathead Valley this week, there could be a prescribed fire.
Flathead National Forest officials said Monday that favorable weather, wind and fuel conditions will bring about half a dozen prescribed burns targeting anywhere from 12 to 1,362 acres.
The largest will be the Paint Emery Central Prescribed Burn in the Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger District. The 1,362 acres are on the east side of Hungry Horse Reservoir.
The prescribed burn there is part of a multi-unit wildlife habitat enhancement project, according to Flathead National Forest spokesman Wade Muehlhof. The goal is to create diverse forest landscape composed of mixed tree species and stand structure and reduce downed woody material to lessen the risks of severe wildfire.
The Firefighter Mountain Prescribed Burn in the same area is planned for 295 acres, and intends to change forest structure and density, and restore and enhance grass and shrub components and make the area more productive for ungulates and other foraging wildlife, as well as reduce fuel load.
A 1,036-acre prescribed burn will be done in phases this fall in the Piper Creek Area of the Swan Lake Ranger District, with some planned for this week. Officials say it will help allow future lightning-caused fires to play a more natural role within and outside the Mission Mountain Wilderness.
In the Tally Lake Ranger District, a burn targets 142 acres of mid- to upper-elevation shrub and conifer near Grouse Creek, on Good Creek, where conifers are encroaching on an open shrub field.
The Spotted Bear Ranger District will have two prescribed fires. At Horse Ridge, 153 acres will be treated for hazardous fuel reduction and to improve winter range habitat. At Spotted Bear River, 12 acres will be burned for the same reasons.