Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

By Rob Gump - Ranger
Lincoln Ranger District 

Key updates from the Lincoln Ranger District

 
Series: Ranger Report | Story 1

August 5, 2021

Roger Dey

This is my first report to you all, and I'd like to first express my appreciation for the warm welcome by the community. Thanks for those of you that have stopped by the office and those who have stopped me in the street to introduce yourself. I look forward to meeting more of you in the coming months.

I'd like to report out a few key updates and speak to what the Lincoln Ranger District has been working on this past month.

The current wildfire activity across Montana and the West has put an early stress on many communities with evacuations and air quality due to smoke. Unfortunately, there is a lot of fire season left in the coming months. Here at your Ranger District, we have had four fire starts thus far with all successfully suppressed and put out – three on the District and one assist on DNRC land. To this point, we seem to have been the exception to what many of our neighboring cooperators and public land agencies have experienced. We are expecting that continuing hot and dry conditions may lead to more difficult initial fire attack situations on the District. The Lincoln District fire crews remain ready and are assisted with a contracted dozer to respond with new fire starts.

Across the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest there are several large fires being managed by Incident Management Teams. In addition, there are fires being managed by local, smaller teams of Forest firefighting resources. Your District firefighters have joined in efforts over this past month. Currently we have twelve firefighters on the line on Forest-related fires and additional District staff who are providing help in support roles.

Another key update is related to the current variant of COVID-19 and its impact to both firefighters and Forest Service employees. Along with the uptick in cases across Montana, we have seen COVID-19 spread in fire camps and beyond fire incidents within the Northern Region of the Forest Service.

What this means to your Lincoln Ranger District is that I am changing from our current limited in-office public service to outside on our front porch. We remain available to the public with outside service from District staff 8 a.m. through 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. Our main phone line – 406-362-7000 – remains available during office hours, or leave a message and we'll return your call.

My intent with this change is to provide a measure of protection for my firefighters and staff, yet continue to provide public service to the community and visitors.

The District came into this fire season without all our firefighter positions filled. With the limited numbers I have at the Ranger District and the demands for firefighting resources across the west, I need to ensure no one here locally is impacted with this current increase in positive COVID-19 cases.

The last key update is that the Ranger District is joining Lewis & Clark and Powell counties and the DNRC to put in place Stage 2 fire restrictions. By the time you read this those will be in place. If you have any questions on what this means to your planned Forest activities, please stop by, or give us a call.

District work continues, with trail crews and volunteers working trail maintenance and recreation crews keeping campgrounds maintained. I continue to work with staff on bringing the Hogum Wildfire Resilience project up Hogum Creek to a NEPA decision. We are expecting road work associated with the Tatanka Timber Sale in the Willow project area to begin in August. In the same project area, the purchaser is moving into the Dalton Timber Sale area to do post-sale activity work on roads and other areas.

We do have three firewood areas that are good choices for firewood cutters. Stop by or call the office if you are interested.

Please feel free to stop by the District or give me a call if you have any questions or concerns.

 

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