Elk NetworkMontana Prescribed Burn to Enhance Wildlife Habitat

General | November 29, 2023

Below is a news release from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation produced a short video about previous habitat stewardship work on the same landscape.

A 95-acre prescribed burn is planned for the Threemile Wildlife Management Area (WMA), located northeast of Stevensville in the Bitterroot Valley. The burn is expected to occur on Thursday, November 30 and residents and visitors should expect to see smoke periodically.

Prescribed fire is a short disturbance for long-term benefits of fuel reduction and wildlife habitat enhancement on the WMA, and this particular project was proposed as part of phase 2 of the Threemile WMA forest habitat work, approved by the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2019.

Specific project objectives are focused on enhancing forage for big game wildlife, restoring open forest conditions dominated by ponderosa pine, and reducing fuel loading. The treatment is aimed at creating a condition that would allow fire to burn at a low severity appropriate for the habitat type, reduce susceptibility to bark beetle infestations, and promote aspen growth and regeneration.

The project is a cooperative effort between Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the Bitterroot National Forest, and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Funding for this habitat management work was provided by FWP and grants through the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Smoke from Threemile WMA will be visible from many places in the Bitterroot Valley, including from Highway 93. Precipitation is forecasted for the project area starting Friday, December 1, which is expected to minimize the duration of smoke from the project.

(Photo credit: Bitterroot National Forest)