A proposal to conduct logging, forest thinning and prescribed burning on 19,147 acres of public land scattered from Clinton to Drummond has drawn scrutiny from conservation groups who say it overstates wildfire risk at the expense of wildlife protection.
The Bureau of Land Management’s Missoula Field Office began planning the Clark Fork Face Forest Health and Fuels Reduction project about two years ago, in early 2021, with the intent to begin work in spring 2023. Work would occur in phases over the next 10–15 years. The agency says the project is aimed at improving forest conditions to be more fire resilient, particularly around former industrial logging and mining lands throughout the Garnet Mountains that are now dotted with private homes. The majority of the work in the project is proposed for areas in far-northern Granite County, near the Garnet Ghost Town northwest of Drummond.
An aerial view of the proposed Clark Fork Face project by the Bureau of Land Management. (Music by Travis Yost)
BEN ALLEN SMITH, Missoulian
Critics say the agency minimized the proposal’s threat to critical habitat for grizzly bear and Canada lynx — species protected under the Endangered Species Act. They say