Prescribed burning to clear smoke at Whitefish Mountain Resort

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Flathead National Forest officials are warning residents that a prescribed burn scheduled for Oct. 10 on woodlots directly adjacent to Whitefish Mountain Resort will create smoke plumes that “will be highly visible from all over the Flathead Valley.”

According to a Friday press release from the Tally Lake Ranger District, “the actual implementation of this burn will depend on many factors, including current and forecast weather conditions, fuel moisture and smoke dispersal.”

Units east of Whitefish Mountain Resort were approved as part of the Whitefish Municipal Watershed Fuel Reduction Project in 2017.

Map courtesy of Flathead National Forest.

“The purpose of these burns is to protect the municipal watershed by introducing prescribed burning that would reduce the risk of high intensity wildfires in the future,” according to the press release. “In addition to these protections, this burning would increase insect and disease resistance, improve habitat for wildlife, and aid in the restoration of whitebark pine.”

This controlled burn will use a helicopter equipped with a helitorch, a device that releases fire into the area to be burned, to accomplish the ignition. Firefighters will be on site and in surrounding areas to assist with the implementation.

A temporary closure order will be in effect around the burn, but will not prevent hikers from using the Danny On Memorial Trail or cyclists from accessing the downhill bike park. However, all Big Mountain trails will be closed for the day on Saturday, Oct. 8, as Whitefish Mountain Resort contracts a Black Hawk helicopter to set up the new lift towers and traverses as the ski area completes the installation of the new chair. 4, which is scheduled to open for the 2022-23 winter season.

Dubbed the Snow Ghost Express, the new six-pack lift will transport skiers from the Base Lodge area to the top of Inspiration Ridge, improving access to the East Rim while providing an alternate route to the higher elevations of Big Mountain and by reducing the traffic of skiers on Chaise 1.

With the implementation of the final phase of the Whitefish Municipal Watershed Fuel Reduction Project, fire managers hope to accomplish approximately 285 acres of approved burning under the Whitefish Municipal Watershed Fuel Reduction Project. . A total of 850 acres have been approved in this project, of which approximately 187 were successfully completed last year.

Members of the public can monitor the Flathead National Forest social media sites for up-to-date information on https://www.facebook.com/discovertheflathead and to https://twitter.com/FlatheadNF. General information about the forest is available online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/flathead.

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