Lolo Restoration Committee On-the-Ground Projects
Seeley Working Group:
The SWG focuses on the Seeley Ranger District. The Southwestern Crown of the Continent (SW Crown) Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) Program has substantially increased funding for restorative stewardship projects on this district. The SWG and the SW Crown Collaborative are partnering to help design projects consistent with both the MFRC Restoration Principles and CFLR program goals. Two years ago, the SWG facilitated LRC consensus support for the Colt- Summit Project. Last fall, Colt-Summit was the first MFRC-supported project to be litigated. While the Forest Service prevailed on 11 of the 12 counts on the lawsuit, the court asked the agency for supplemental information regarding cumulative impacts to lynx. While the suits has delayed implementation of portions of the Colt-Summit project, some work has moved forward. This summer, an undersized fish-barrier culvert on Colt Creek was replaced with a bottomless arch that opened up approximately two miles of westslope cutthroat trout habitat.
The SWG also led field trips and worked over the last year on two major projects: Horseshoe West, between the Double Arrow Ranch and Big Sky Lake subdivisions east of Highway 83; and Center Horse, north of the Blackfoot River. This summer, the Forest Service published a scoping notice for the Center Horse project, thus initiating the NEPA planning process. The Seeley Working Group will remain engaged on these projects over the coming year.
Westside Working Group:
This year has had a strong focus on monitoring for the Westside Working Group. A spring monitoring trip to the South Fork Fish spurred the creation of a Monitoring subcommittee and revived interest in following and communicating with the FS on projects through the NEPA process and into contracting and implementation. Jake took the lead in organizing a monitoring training workshop held at Lubrecht Forest in March. This fall, in partnership with the SW Crown monitoring committee, a field training workshop will delve deeper into the Rapid Forest Assessment process and other citizen-based monitoring protocols. The Westside group invested significant effort in the Cedar-Thom project, with numerous meetings and field trips. The LRC interacted with the community, sharing the MFRC Restoration Principles and our vision of a restoration-based economy. At 58,000 acres, with both aquatic and vegetative restoration activities, Cedar-Thom is the most complex project we have addressed. It triggers sensitive issues such as road construction and thinning in roadless areas and old growth. The WWG is creating a monitoring plan for this project with the decision expected soon. The Marshall-Woods project on the Missoula Ranger District was our first “from scratch” project. It brought a unique set of issues associated with the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area. The WWG and district staff spent over a year deliberating over project options and reaching out to neighbors and recreation users for input. Unfortunately, the Lolo NF has delayed implementation of this project for budgetary reasons. The LRC continues to advocate for the implementation of this project and is working on a monitoring plan for the project.