They're looking for project ideas that will help the Bitterroot National Forest and other areas of Ravalli County. The Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) has an April 29th deadline to accept proposals from the public that could be used to improve roads and trails, watersheds, wildlife and fish habitat, or even control of noxious weeds.

Tod McKay of the Bitterroot National Forest said the RAC is comprised of volunteers who evaluate the ideas and, with advice from the Bitterroot National Forest staff, pick a few for the yearly improvements. This year, they have about $116,000 available from the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act.

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There are some restrictions. At least half of the money is reserved for projects that restore streams and watersheds or road maintenance. The projects can be on private land, but must directly improve the National Forest lands.

McKay said that over the last 20 years, over $2.5 million has helped complete a wide range of projects in the Bitterroot Valley. Let's look at last year - a bridge replacement at the Bass Creek Nature Trail, new signs at Lake Como, improved fishing access sites on the West Fork of the Bitterroot River, a park bench and trailhead improvement at Memorial Park trail, a bighorn sheep enhancement project in the West Fork, and mitigation of bear-human conflicts in the valley.

And, year after year, funding helps keep a volunteer stewardship program operating at St. Mary's Peak lookout. Volunteers staff the historic site west of Stevensville, help keep the trail maintained and talk to the public about the area.

If you have an idea for a project, call Abbie Jossie, the Darby/Sula District Ranger, at 406 821-4244 or Tod McKay at 406 363-7122.

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