Sunrise fire restoration projecT
Just a stone’s throw from Alberton in 2015, the West Fork Fish Creek Fire burned through 11,845 acres of local recreational wilderness causing extensive damage to both wilderness and infrastructure for the area. This year, local residents have watched as 26,310 acres burned with a fierceness in the Quartz Creek area, a fire dubbed the Sunrise Fire.
With over 1.6 million acres burning in the state of Montana, just this year, it leaves people feeling helpless. Many want to do something to help but don’t even know where to begin. There is a partially incorrect misconception that if “the Forest Service wanted it replanted, they would do it” because a majority of the time the Forest Service would love to have areas replanted immediately but they are having to fight within regions and districts for what they need the most; funding. There are people sitting in offices in Washington DC, and other areas, that decide which region gets what portion of the funding available to the Forest Service, and from there it trickles out based on several different criteria. Just because we think our local forest areas are a high priority, doesn’t mean that others do. And with wildfires consuming the forests in the manner they have, even over the last 5 or 6 years; well, to put it simply, they need our help.
The process of reforesting an area after a fire has many steps, it takes money, but it also takes time. Orders for trees have to be placed with the nursery no later than December 1st, and it takes 2 years for the nursery to grow them to a point where they get shipped for replanting. Yes, they can have ship younger trees, but in all honesty, 1 year bare root starts have a lower survivability rate than 2 year starts.
Our goal is to raise $10320 by November 27th. Current costs for 1000 trees is $344, so our goal amount would give us enough to purchase 30000 trees. If planted wisely, this could help reforest an area over 200 acres. But this isn’t just a typical “hey, let’s raise money for this” project. Because it takes 2 years to have the trees to plant, we are working with local Forest Service employees, and plan to try and make this something the entire community can learn from and benefit from. We plan to try and set up “field days” for local kids to go out and work with the Forest Service to learn about the wilderness, about conservation, about wildlife and habitat. We want to increase public awareness and education through this project.
This is our home. Many of us use the lands around us for recreation whether it’s hunting and fishing, camping and backpacking, hiking…even firewood harvesting for heat during the winter. We have the opportunity to do something, to help out and give back; we need to try. And some of you may be thinking that 200 or 300 acres when looking at over 38,000 doesn’t seem like much; every little bit helps. Let’s show people exactly what a small community can do.
More information coming soon
Water is a finite resource, and protecting a small towns water supply is a big deal. Due to the location and set up of Alberton's water storage, the town was paying a considerable amount on liability insurance. As a foundation, and a committee, we chose to take on this project first, with the understanding that anything we endeavored to do might take a few years to accomplish. When we spoke with the town's water maintenance supervisor, he thought that a fence and security system around the water reservoir would be a great place to start. Due to the terrain in which a fence would have to be installed, the bids we received were astounding, and we were worried it would take quite some time to pull it off; but pull it off we did, in a manner of speaking. Though we were unable to get a fence installed, we were able to come through and get a state of the art security system in place with the help of Mountain West Dynamark Securities out of Missoula, and local Albertonian Joe Devlin, who donated his time to do the labor required to get the system installed.