Last week, crews completed about 600 acres of prescribed "understory" burns at the Bass Creek Recreation Area of the Bitterroot National Forest, according to Tod McKay of the forest.

Understory burns are set to reduce grasses and low-lying vegetation around trees, which reduces the risk of high-intensity forest fires during the regular fire season. The area has now been re-opened for recreation use.

McKay said the Bass Creek area is the second-most popular such site in the Bitterroot National Forest. The top site is the Lake Como Recreation Area, which is often the top site for the Northern Region of the U.S. Forest Service. Prescribed burns near that site were completed earlier this spring.

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Those who plan to visit Bass Creek's many trails and campsites northwest of Stevensville should be aware of burned areas throughout, including along trails and campsites. There are some hazards, too. Off the trails, that includes dead trees that could fall in high winds, and burn-out stump and root holes in the landscape. On the trails, watch for ash and pine needles that may be slippery.

bass creek burn
Understory burn at Bass Creek. (Bitterroot National Forest-provided photo)
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If you do encounter a dangerous situation, McKay asked you to contact the Stevensville Ranger District as soon as you can at 406 777-5461. Prescribed burning is continuing in the Bitterroot National Forest. The main areas are in the southern Ravalli County area, up the East Fork on the Darby/Sula Ranger District, and on the West Fork Ranger District. The burns will be conducted, weather permitting.

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