Stewardship authority is a forest management tool that allows the value of timber and other vegetative products removed too offset the cost of service work within a single contract to achieve land management goals. This authority requires that a project must meet local community needs such as employment or protecting a community from catastrophic wildfire. Stewardship contracts are awarded based on Best Value, which allows the selecting committee to choose the contractor best suited to complete the project based on technical expertise, past performance on similar type projects, the cost for the services and prices offered for the products.
Since 2004, the BLM Montana and Dakota’s has completed 32 stewardship projects through either the forestry or fuels programs. The Garnet Ghost Town Stewardship Project, completed by the Missoula Field Office, is an example of a forestry stewardship project that removed dead and dying lodgepole pine from 300 acres within a historic mining town. This project demonstrated that forests could be mechanically treated without damaging historic features. The Helena Area Wildland Urban Interface Stewardship Project, completed by the Butte Field Office, is another example of a successful multi-year fuels stewardship project that treated numerous acres of BLM managed forests in the wildland urban interface in the Helena Valley.
The North Fork Stewardship Project, planned for 2017 by the Lewistown Field Office, proposes to treat 460 acres forested lands and 167 acres of meadow restoration. Forest treatment plans are to thin Douglas-fir, regenerate lodgepole pine and restore aspen stands that are being impacted by conifer encroachment. The meadow restoration treatment will benefit a local Sage Grouse population.