MISSOULA – Facing an increasing risk of catastrophic wildfires putting Western Montana’s growing population at risk, Lolo National Forest managers are launching a new approach to give people more of a “ground level” education on being fire safe.
All you have to do is reflect back to two summers ago, when Missoula was surrounded by fire on every side. Starting with dry lightning storms at this point in mid-July, blazes like the Lolo Peak Fire and the Rice Ridge Fire were raging by mid-August.
Although a few homes were lost, the risk of losing more was a constant worry with hundreds being forced from their homes.
Now, forest managers are using a new “learning labs” approach to convince homeowners there are steps they can take to not only protect their property, but also to help reduce of smaller fires spiraling out of control and endangering the entire community.
Between now and the end of the month, people are being invited to attend two “learning labs” to see how forest management and fire science are changing the way we prepare for wildfires.
There will be a field trip at Pattee Canyon Picnic Area from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on July 23 to show how forest treatment takes the landscape into account.
Then, on July 31, there will be a West Missoula Neighborhood Learning Lab at Missoula Rural Fire District Fire Station 1 to discuss fire science and risk. The public is welcome to attend both those workshops.
The labs are part of the new “Wildfire Adapted Missoula” effort and plan adopted by Missoula County.