Montana Forest Restoration Committee
Restoring Montana's Forests - A New Approach

Montana Forest Restoration Committee

The Montana Forest Restoration Committee (MFRC) is primarily a volunteer consensus-based collaborative group, which was formed in January 2007 to help guide restoration of Montana’s National Forests.

The MFRC articulated a collective vision of ecologically-appropriate, scientifically-supported forest restoration through a set of 13 principles (Principles), ratified in August 2007. The Principles represent the “zone of agreement” where controversy, delays, appeals, and litigation are significantly reduced.

The group published a booklet, Restoring Montana's National Forest Lands, outlining the process and the restoration principles.

The MFRC set up four restoration committees on three National Forests in Montana: Bitterroot, Helena and Lolo. These committees are utilizing the principles in on-the-ground projects on each forest.

2009 was an exciting year for the MFRC effort. Our first project made it through the Record of Decision on the Lolo National Forest, and we achieved consensus to work on two projects on the Bitterroot National Forest. We also implemented a new restoration committee on the Lincoln District of the Helena National Forest. That group, the Lincoln Restoration committee, has already reached consensus on their first project.

In 2010, the MFRC expanded its "zone of agreement" through the finalization of the Mixed Conifer/Mixed Severity Fire Regime Appendix. This Appendix, approved on Aug. 2, expands upon Principles 1 and 5 and will aid the local Forest Restoration Committees in working on more complex landscapes. 

In early 2011 the MFRC further expanded with the implementation of a restoration committee working on the Elkhorn Management Area in the Helena and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests. The Elkhorn Restoration Committee meets monthly and is actively engaged on their first project within the Helena National Forest. 

In 2013, the MFRC has broaded its work to include the creation of a monitoring program. This program is two-fold. The first aspect of the projects provides supplies and support to restoration committee members conducting project monitoring in the field. The MFRC created bins of equipment that can be checked out by committee members and provide all necesarry equipment and data sheets needed to monitor. The second aspect of the monitoring program is student monitoring. The Lolo Restoration Committee worked with BIg Sky and Snetinel High schools in Missoula to monitor on the Marshall Woods project. Students were in the field for the day and learned about moitoring, how to use monitoring tools and ewquipment, and conducted their own plot assessments. The hope is that this student monitoring program will expand to other restoration committees and more schools.