Words from Your Watershed

Cost-share for SVWC’s hazardous fuels reduction program still available
Thursday, March 12, 2020
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Several large wildfires, most significantly the Derby Fire of 2006, have threatened private lands and developments in the area in recent years.

As many have observed, the Stillwater Valley, comprised of dry ponderosa pine forests and open rangeland, is being encroached by juniper and Douglas-fir, as well as higher elevation mixed conifer forests. Vegetative fuel conditions can be dangerous because of low summer precipitation, overstocked forests, and blowdown-aftermath. Slope steepness, windy conditions and lack of access roads make firefighting in many areas particularly difficult/dangerous.

The Stillwater Valley Watershed Council (SVWC) is now it its third year of the Upper Stillwater Watershed Hazardous Fuels Mitigation Project. The goal of this project is to reduce hazardous fuel conditions, as mentioned above, around the communities in the Stillwater River watershed. Areas in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) around Absarokee, Fishtail, Dean, Nye, Roscoe and south of Columbus will be targeted.

The WUI’s specific focus will be aforementioned areas characterized by extreme wind-driven fire behavior, rural residential development with poor access, and limited fire response capacity.

This project will complement adjacent fuel treatments on federal and private lands to establish stand-replacing fire resistant landscapes and maximize the scale of treatments for communitywide protection. The cooperation of this type of cross-boundary fuel mitigation directly reduces the fire risk on individual properties, in addition to properties and communities adjacent to treated areas.

If you are indeed a landowner in Stillwater County, you’ll likely agree that with land ownership comes responsibility to protect it. And, as many of the residents of our valley have witnessed, wildland fire has become an annual threat to our watershed community. We know you care about the legacy of your land and whether you own 100 trees or 100 acres of trees, there are things you can do to protect the values that are important to you in your forest. Numerous area landowners have done just that!

In the past two years, the SVWC has conducted 35 site visits, helped improve the direct fire resiliency of over 130 acres, completed numerous home assessments and fuels reduction prescriptions, all while educating both small and large acreage landowners and providing over $100,000 in costshare!

Through this program, the SVWC will schedule a certified forest professional to visit your property to conduct an external home assessment of the ignition zone. A forester can answer a variety of questions including: How do I protect my forest and home from wildfire, insects and diseases? How can I attract more wildlife to my property? How can I leave my land better than when I got it?

Who qualifies? Landowners in the Stillwater watershed, located in the outlying areas of Absarokee, Nye, Fishtail, Dean, Roscoe, and south of Columbus with small tract forests or forested rangeland areas along the Beartooth Front will be accepted.

Is there funds to help? Yes! All site visits are free of charge and cost-share funds are available to help improve your home’s ignition zone.

Do you know your home’s ignition zone? Definition: A perimeter of 200 feet around the home and its surroundings.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity! SVWC has over $60,000 still available to provide cost-share to improve your fire resiliency. Contact Lindsey Clark at 406.780.1249 (svwc2010@hotmail.com) ASAP to schedule a site visit before it’s too late!