MCC Northern Rockies Forestry crews offer opportunities to gain considerable field experience in a variety of Forest Service timber management activities on both the Flathead and Kootenai National Forests.
Tree species ID and Timber Stand Improvement
Forestry crews receive training in identifying tree species in the Northern Rockies ecosystem. Crews also receive training in timber stand assessment, determining a long term plan for the forest taking into account forest health, wildfire mitigation, and the economic value of the timber. This includes marking viable trees for removal or sale, controlling undesirable vegetation, and improving the stand for wildlife habitat.
Project work for our forestry crews consists of heavy fuels reduction work; using chainsaws to thin the forest in order to reduce the amount of fuels (trees, shrubs, brush) on the ground, thereby reducing the impact of wildland fire.
Forestry crews utilize chainsaws to restore habitat. This can include removal of less desirable tree species to allow others to thrive or clearing out the understory to provide better wildlife habitat.
Reforestation Plot Surveying
Forestry crews learn the process of reforesting an area of public land, thereby reducing the impacts of global warming. Healthy forests act as carbon sinks, absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases. Healthy forests are vital to reduce the impacts of climate change.
Fireline & Fuelbreak Operations
Forestry crews learn to prep a unit for a prescribed burn through creating fuel breaks and constructing fireline to prevent prescribed burns from getting out of control. Prescribed burns are an essential component of healthy forests that are overgrown due to years of natural fire suppression.
Biochar is a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that improves soil health and sequesters carbon long-term as it resists degradation. Biochar is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and historic soil management practices. It could be a solution to combat climate change.
Want to learn more about specific forestry crew projects? Check out these projects from previous years to get a sense of the great work that has been accomplished by our crews!
A MCC crew and the Flathead National Forest teamed up to create biochar. The crew began by cutting non-desirable trees and brush along a roadside earlier this season. Then, more recently, they used “ring of fire” kilns (which limit oxygen) to burn the slash, creating biochar.
Biochar Project Stats provided by the FNF Project Partner:
- The MCC crew produced about 5 yards of biochar.
- 5 yards of biochar is about 1 ton of biochar
- 1 ton of biochar sequesters enough carbon for 2.35 tons of CO2
- 2.35 tons of CO2 is about the CO2 produced by 240 gallons of gas burned in a vehicle
Fuel Breaks & Fire line with Spotted Bear Ranger District
This crew worked with Spotted Bear Ranger District Fire to re-dig fire line around a unit they plan to do a prescribed burn on during the fall season. They also cleared fallen trees and woody debris from the fire line in two different work sites. Over all, they dug 0.26 miles of fire line as well as removed over 60 fallen trees, thereby protecting the surrounding forest from their planned prescribed burn.
They also worked to create fuel breaks along roads in the area. This involved using chainsaws to eliminate any taller shrubs such as alder and maple, as well as any standing trees that were four inches in diameter or less. The finished product was an area that spanned roughly 20 feet away from the road that was thinned of trees and any taller brush. This will prevent future fires from "jumping" the road and burning other areas.
Reforestation Surveys on the Libby Ranger District
This crew worked on the Libby Ranger District with the support of the district’s culturist to complete reforestation stocking surveys (refos) of areas that have experienced wildfire in recent years. For the Pipe Bull project, salvage harvesting and replanting with desired tree species was completed this spring. This crew completed refos to examine whether the planted seedlings were progressing or failing. They completed refos for 32 units in this project. The other project area in which they worked was the Tamarack area, where some of the units had been planted while others were naturally regenerating. In each survey plot, the crew counted the number of trees, noted their health, and recorded conditions such as presence of live overwood/cones, stockability, snags, rocks, and brush. Summaries and recommendations were then written for each unit. Overall, the crew completed a total of 36 units and 724 acres of surveying during this hitch.