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Butte Field Office
Release Date: 08/30/11
Contacts: David Abrams 406-533-7617    

BLM Seeks Comments on Habitat Restoration Project in Big Hole Area

The Bureau of Land Management seeks public comment on a habitat restoration project near Wise River tentatively scheduled to begin in Summer 2012.

The Upper Big Hole East Landscape Restoration Project in the Jerry Creek, Johnson Creek, Alder Creek, Wise River and Charcoal Gulch areas is designed to improve conditions in forest, sagebrush, stream and riparian habitats across a large-scale landscape, roughly 23,000 acres in size.

Public comment on the project will be considered until Oct. 15 and will be extremely helpful in the development of the Environmental Assessment which the BLM plans to make available for public review by the end of February 2012, said Sarah LaMarr of the BLM’s Butte Field Office. LaMarr is heading up the project and said it’s different than previous vegetation restoration treatments. “With this, we’re placing an emphasis on taking an overall landscape-scale approach,” she said. “The project will focus on moving habitat and vegetation back towards a range of conditions that would have existed before fire suppression. This is expected to increase the diversity of habitats and vegetation to benefit wildlife and forest health as well as reduce the risk of wildland fire to adjacent private property.”

Specifically, the landscape restoration project aims to: reduce the density of trees in Douglas-fir and lodgepole pine forests to restore or increase stand vigor and understory diversity; reduce conifers from sagebrush/grassland meadows to restore and/or maintain current and historic sagebrush/grassland habitats; reduce conifers in aspen and riparian habitats to restore and/or maintain aspen stands and increase the vigor and diversity of riparian vegetation; restore in-stream habitat for fish and other aquatic dependent species; reduce the risk from wildland fire in the wildland-urban interface; reassess about five miles of three different roads for public access; issue grazing permits and improve livestock grazing management; and close unsafe abandoned mines.

As part of the project, the BLM will consider public access issues as well as the effects to natural resources such as wildlife habitat, water quality and soil erosion. Travel planning for the Upper Big Hole East Planning Area was completed in 2009 through the Upper Big Hole River Travel Management Plan. Since implementation of the travel plan in 2010, additional issues have been identified for three routes in the planning area; the BLM plans to address those issues during the upcoming project.

An inventory of roads in the planning area has already begun and will assess the condition of roads. It will also identify new user-created roads as well as those missed during the original mapping of the area. Minor changes to the Upper Big Hole River Travel Management Plan could occur as a result of this survey.

LaMarr said some of the other proposed activities include:
  • Harvesting and/or thinning about 3,000 acres of forest/woodland stands.
  • Removing conifer colonization from about 1,000 acres in sagebrush/grassland parks.
  • Reducing the risk of fire on approximately 500 acres in the wildland-urban interface in the Wise River area.
  • Removing conifer colonization from roughly 100 acres of aspen stands.
  • Planting willow, aspen and other riparian vegetation along disturbed stream banks.
  • Resurfacing Charcoal Gulch Road. 

To see more details and maps of the project, visit the Butte Field Office’s webpage at For further information, call Sarah LaMarr at (406) 533-7600.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Butte Field Office   106 N. Parkmont      Butte, MT 59702   

Last updated: 06-28-2012