In July, Missoulians will have three Learning Lab opportunities to engage with Wildfire Adapted Missoula. WAM is a concept presented by the Missoula Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest in partnership with other land managers. Karen DiBari is the Director of Conservation Connect at the National Forest Foundation and she explains the purpose of the Learning Labs.

“The forest service really wanted to start having conversations with community members about why a project like this would be needed, why the scale of it as a large project is important, why it being cross boundary is really important in order to be successful, and to also get feedback from people about what questions they have and how could they also be taking action on their own private land to help make that whole project complete across boundaries,” DiBari said.

These are not formal public hearings, but DiBari says it is important to have dialog before the project is designed. WAM is really focused on changing our relationship with smoke and fire.

“Our landscape is more in the natural cycle and is less at risk of a large fire that would get out of control,” DiBari said. “This is a really proactive step. We are trying to make Missoula wildfire adaptive. It is really going to take everybody at all levels of government and private citizens to be a part of the solution.”

Modeling completed for the Lolo National Forest Risk Assessment and the Missoula County Community Wildfire Protection Plan demonstrates that the risk of wildfire in the WAM project area is very high to high on 177,000 acres.

All three events are open to the public.

 Event Details:

  • Thursday, July 11: Missoula Rural District Fire Station 2 (6550 US Highway 10 W, Missoula) from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 23: Pattee Canyon Picnic Area, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wear attire suitable for standing outdoors.
  • Wednesday, July 31: Missoula Rural District Fire Station 1 (2521 South Avenue W, Missoula) from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Learning Labs Overview: On July 11 and July 31, a fire scientist, WAM project managers, and firefighters will provide information and answer questions about what it means to live in a fire-adapted ecosystem and how the Missoula area can prepare for wildfire. The Missoula Ranger District will discuss its vision for reducing fire risk, improving forest health and ensuring the safety of our community and first responders. Staff from Missoula County Office of Emergency Management and Missoula Rural Fire District will also be available to provide resources to residents and private landowners.

Pattee Canyon Site-Visit: A site visit on July 23 to Pattee Canyon will offer Missoulians the chance to see an on-going forest treatment project that aims to reduce the canyon’s vulnerability to fire. Forest Service staff will describe the work and its impact, as well as answer questions.