Connecting Fuels Treatments in the Salish Mountains and Whitefish Range is a Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership project connecting 25 miles of cross boundary fuel reduction treatments within the wildland urban interface near Kalispell, Montana.
Project duration: 2022-2024
Project area: Portions of Flathead County, Montana
This landscape-scale fuels reduction project targets connecting 25 miles of cross boundary fuel reduction treatments within the rapidly expanding wildland urban interface (WUI) and communities at risk of catastrophic wildfire near the Salish Mountains west of Kalispell and north to the Whitefish Range. Flathead is the third most populated County in the state with 60% of the population living in forested areas; it ranked third for total risk to structures in the Montana Wildfire Risk Assessment (2020). In addition, 65% of the forested project area was identified as part of the priority areas for focused attention in the Montana Forest Action Plan (2020) due to elevated wildfire risk and forest health issues. Dominant forest species are Douglas-fir, western larch, lodgepole pine, subalpine fir, and spruce, with secondary presence of ponderosa pine, whitebark pine, alpine larch, and western redcedar. The project boundary and priority areas, as identified on the map, are strategically defined to connect recent past and planned cross-boundary fuel reduction projects in a manner that will significantly reduce and mitigate wildfire threats to communities and landowners. The 4,230 acres this proposal would fund are the high priority and expensive non-commercial acres that connect a conservative estimate of 22,000 acres treated within the past 10 years across all ownerships. These planned acres are in conjunction with an additional 10,000 acres planned in the next three years to be treated through commercial timber harvest within the Joint Chiefs project area. To address the need, treatments will include thinning, mastication, piling, and prescribed fire. Long-standing partner relationships assure successful implementation and outcomes across ownership boundaries. Beyond protecting homes from wildfire is the protection of critical infrastructure including the Whitefish municipal watershed, four public schools, Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) powerline corridor, BNSF railroad, Whitefish Mountain Resort, and communication sites. Benefits include evacuation routes for the safety of residents and responders, enhancing forest health, increasing wildfire resilience, and climate adaptation.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service as well as other Federal, state, county, and local entities:
- Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC)
- Flathead County
- Northwest Montana Hazardous Fuels Program
- National Forest Foundation
Applicable Conservation Practices
- 315 Herbaceous Weed Treatment
- 384 Woody Residue Treatment
- 666 Forest Stand Improvement
Detailed descriptions of these conservation practices can be found in the Field Office Technical Guide, Section 4 - Practice Standards and Supporting Documents.
When to Apply
Program applications are accepted on a continual basis. However, NRCS establishes application ranking dates for evaluation, ranking and approval of eligible applications. Applications received after the ranking date will be automatically deferred to the next funding period. See Montana Programs and Application Dates.
Local Ranking Questions
NRCS uses these questions to evaluate eligible applications for this project and to prioritize applications for potential funding.
- Does the EQIP contract leverage the management of natural resources across land ownership (public-private) boundaries?
- EQIP project is located in an area that is adjacent to high priority projects on public land as identified in the selected Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Project proposal.
- EQIP project is located in an area that is within the same 12-digit hydrologic unit as high priority projects on public land as identified in the selected Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Project proposal.
- Are the planned practices located within the following proximity to previously completed projects or planned projects on private lands?
- Directly adjacent
- Located within quarter mile
- Does the planned project include treatment along an identified ingress/egress route?
- Primary ingress/egress
- Secondary ingress/egress
- Is the planned project located in close proximity to an identified structure?
- Within 500 feet
- Within 1000 feet
Kalispell Service Center in Flathead County, Montana
Additional Montana Information
NRCS contributions to Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership projects in Montana are managed through the Montana Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
Ready to get started?
Contact your local service center to start your application.
How to Get Assistance
Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?
Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.
To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.
NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.
We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:
- To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
- To meet other eligibility certifications.
Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.
Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.
As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:
- An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
- A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
- A farm tract number.
If you don’t have a farm tract number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm tract number if you’re interested in financial assistance.
NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.
If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.
Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.