A forest fuels reduction project has been proposed in the Sapphire Mountains of the Bitterroot Valley northeast of Stevensville. The “Good Neighbor Authority” plan combines three agencies - the Bitterroot National Forest, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and the Montana Department of Natural Resources. The object - reduce overcrowded tree stands and bug-killed trees on over 1,500 acres of state and federal land. Tod McKay of the Bitterroot National Forest said only 238 acres of Stevensville Ranger District forest land is involved. Another 1,500 acres is in the Threemile Wildlife Management Area, proposed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to improve elk habitat and includes road upgrades to improve access to US Forest Service land.

The area is in the upper Wheelbarrow and Spring Creek watersheds of the Threemile Wildlife Management Area. The Bitterroot Community Wildfire Protection Plan has called the area a “high priority” for fuel reduction in the Wildland Urban Interface. McKay said the project proposal is in its early stages and public comment is encouraged. A public meeting is planned Wednesday, February 13, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the North Valley Public Library in Stevensville. Please RSVP at 777-7425 if you plan to attend. Public comment period deadline is March 11, 2019. There is more information at the Forest Service website.