A 350-acre timber sale has started in the Bitterroot National Forest. The Piquett Creek timber sale will start harvesting next week, with work to continue through the summer, into October, according to Joni Lubke of the Bitterroot Forest.

The work will be done by Sun Mountain Lumber of Deer Lodge. Traffic will be affected on a number of Forest Service roads in that area, about five miles southwest of Conner, on the West Fork Ranger District. Specifically, Forest Road 5720 and the Piquett Ridge Trailhead will have delays. And motorists should expect increased logging truck traffic on Forest Roads 49 and 5720 during the weekdays. An estimated 10 loads per day will be coming from the sale area.

This is a fuels reduction and vegetation management project, and just a small part of the larger Piquett Creek Project, stretching out about 6,000 acres in the Piquett Creek and West Fork Bitterroot River-Lloyd Creek watersheds. The area is near Trapper Creek Job Corps Center, Triple Creek Ranch and about 96 other structures in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). Nearby, the community of Conner has been at the top of the list in Montana for wildfire risk.

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Elsewhere in the large project area, Lubke said that 623 acres of tree thinning and hand piling was done last summer. There was also work on the area roads and bridges to improve fish habitat in Piquett Creek. The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation partnered on those projects.

This summer, another 947 acres will be thinned and hand-piled as part of the Montana Forest Action Plan. That will include about 30 acres of private land on the edge of the Bitterroot National Forest land.

The project was developed by including public field trips, presentations to local landowners and the Ravalli County Collaborative and Bitterroot Restoration Committee. For more information, you can call the West Fork Ranger Station at 406 821-3269.

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