Photo Credit: Ali Ulwelling, MT Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation
An article in a recent issue of the Daily Inter Lake paper in Flathead County, MT outlined the area’s current potential for wildfires and how stakeholders are actively working with residents to create awareness of the tools they can implement to help reduce the risk at their properties.
In the article, Ali Ulwelling, a fire prevention specialist for Montana's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation says, “If you just thin the property vegetation changes and with that you see more wildlife and diversity with shrub layers coming up that create habitat for birds.”
Ulwelling and Bill Swope, a former U.S. Forest Service firefighter and the lead forester with the Flathead Economic Policy Center along with other state officials visit landowners in the valley, providing free expertise and consultations on how to effectively manage forest health and cut the likelihood of a fire hitting structures; avoiding unnecessary costs and firefighting resources.
Swope said. “It isn’t always easy to convince landowners to pick up the tab for major fire-prevention projects — which can run up to $2,500 per acre.” His organization hooks them up with matching grants and other funding assistance to cut down on the costs. Plus, lumber and pulp wood sold to timber companies after thinning activities can help offset the cost of treatment.
For more information on the program contact Ali Ulwelling. She can be reached at 751-2270 or the Flathead Economic Policy Center at 892-8155.