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Entries in Lolo National Forest (10)


Efforts to fight Gold Creek Fire ramp up

Inciweb map shows location of the Gold Creek Fire(MISSOULA)- Efforts to get some control on the growing Gold Creek Fire north of Missoula are ramping up today, as a Type 2 management team takes over management on the blaze, which erupted on Monday. 

The fire is burning in the backcountry of the Rattlesnake Wilderness Area, and now measures more than 160-acres as it continues to grow.

The blaze presents a challenge for fire crews because of its remote location and steep terrain, with few escape routes for fire crews on the ground. Today crews are working to establish safety zones and anchor points for crews and removing some hazardous trees, as well as protecting the historic Gold Creek cabin. 

Trails in the vicinity of the fire have been closed for safety. 


Latest Bitterroot Resort plans nixed by Forest Service

(MISSOULA)- Both the Lolo National Forest and the Bitterroot National Forest are rejecting the latest plans for the Bitterroot Resort, saying the proposed ski area isn’t compatible with management plans for either jurisdiction.

That’s the sum of a letter given to resort developer Tom Maclay during a meeting with administrators of both forests today.

Maclay has been pressing for the resort’s development, which would require ski operations to use public land adjacent to his family’s ranch for several years. He had submitted a revised proposal for the Forest Service to review back in May, hoping to get initial approval for Special Use permits.

But in the letter signed by Lolo National Forest Supervisor Deborah Austin and Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor Julie King, the administrators say Maclay’s latest plans failed to pass even the initial screening process.

The Forest Service says the problem is that the ski operations, including construction of a gondola and other facilities reaching up the north side of Lolo Peak aren’t compatible with the Forest Plans that were adopted in the 1980s.

For the Lolo lands, Austin says the gondola and construction of ski trails aren’t compatible with the Carlton Ridge Research Natural Area, which was set aside for preservation and research in 1987. Furthermore, the agencies say the proposed ski resort would conflict with policies for non-motorized use on those sections of the forest, including “developed recreation facilities.”

The rejection is a setback for Maclay, who had been hoping a revised project would help his project move forward, staving off a move to turn his family’s historic ranch over to creditors, who bought the land at a sheriff’s auction last winter. 


Bitterroot Resort developer still confident about project

KPAX TV photo(LOLO)- Bitterroot Resort developer Tom Maclay is still confident his project will become a reality, even though the land he wants to use technically has been sold to someone else. 

Maclay's efforts to develop the ski resort ran into a major snag last winter when the land his family has owned for generations was sold at auction by the Missoula County Sheriff's Office. That sale, for more than $22-million, was to satisfy creditors for the original outstanding loan to develop the stalled project.

But Maclay remains confident he'll still be able to finish his plans, and satisfy Lolo National Forest managers to obtain permits for ski terrain, in time to avoid the creditors from taking possession of the land. 

KPAX TV reports Maclay told a community meeting Friday he's still pressing forward with plans for the ski resort, and has submitted a revised permit application which is being reviewed by the Forest Service. 


Idaho, Lolo fires send more smoke over Western MT

East Fork Fire burning SW of Darby- USFS photo(LOLO PASS)- Fires burning over the border in Idaho are contributing even more smoke to the stinky air over the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys.

The Granite Pass fire, which started in a brief lightning storm late last week grew to over 200-acres Saturday, and are now between 600 and 800-acres. The blazes were initially being handled by the Lolo National Forest, but since their location is actually more centrally located on the Idaho side of the Bitterroot Divide, the Nez Perce National Forest has taken over management of the blazes.

The fire is located about 3-miles northwest of Lolo Pass.

It appears just one cabin is threatened by the fire.

But the main impact was clearly visible over the Missoula Valley Sunday evening, as huge columns of smoke drifted skyward toward Missoula.

We should get a better idea on the spread of the fire, and what fire managers are going to do about the backcountry blaze Monday morning. About 200 people and a Type 3 fire team were on the blaze over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Nez Perce National Forest has other fires to worry about as well, all burning several miles west of Montana’s Bitterroot Valley.

The Storm Complex is 600 acres and the Williams Range Complex is 85 acres.  Both fires were actively burning Saturday.

The largest fire, called the East Fork Fire on the Red River Ranger District, is more than 25-miles west of West Como Peak and demonstrated active fire behavior Saturday, with group of trees torching and some short-range spotting. Fifty-five people are currently assigned to the fire that has burned upwards of 5000 acres.


Lightning starts new fires in Lolo National Forest

(LOLO)- Lightning has sparked new fires burning across the Lolo National Forest, with crews working to keep them from spreading and causing more problems.

The fires were all sparked by small thunderstorms that moved out of Idaho across the Bitterroot Divide this afternoon.

Lolo National Forest says the largest fire is approximately four acres, burning near Granite Pass, about 3-miles from Lolo Pass. Fire crews have an engine on scene to protect a cabin near the fire, with air drops from a tanker.

A second fire, called the Granite Pass II fire is also burning about four acres with 20-firefighters and a helicopter attacking those flames. A third fire near Granite Pass was contained before it burned an entire acre.

Fire managers say efforts to attack the Granite Pass fire was helped by having extra resources in the area fighting the West Riverside fire east of Missoula.

Also on the Missoula District firefighters have responded to two fires located in the West Fork Butte area approximately five miles east of Lolo Hot Springs. Both fires are less than one-tenth of an acre. Fire managers expect containment of these fires with the resources that have been committed already, which includes Smokejumpers.

Firefighters today also responded to and contained three lightning caused fires on the Plains/Thompson Fall and Superior ranger districts.



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