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Montana Watershed Coordination Council | P.O. Box 1416 Helena, MT 59624 | info@mtwatersheds.orgClick Here to Sign-up for our Watershed Newsletter

Capacity Support: Prescribed Fire Foundations in the Blackfoot

Cooperative prescribed burn facilitated by The Nature Conservancy utilizing members of the Blackfoot Prescribed Fire Working Group at Baldy Mountain Forest Preserve

The Blackfoot Challenge is working with communities to increase the pace and scale of prescribed burning in the Blackfoot River watershed. The Challenge received Capacity Support funding from the MWCC Watershed Fund to cover personnel costs for creating burn plans for private landowners, holding numerous meetings with private landowners and public agency partners, developing an agreement between partners and their Prescribed Fire Working Group, hiring a burn team for 2020, and hosting three public tours of conducted prescribed fires. As a forest restoration and management tool, prescribed fires help decrease wildfire severity; protect communities from extreme fires; protect water quality by decreasing sediment and ash in runoff; remove unwanted species that threaten native species, and decrease tree density to create a more historic patchwork mosaic of vegetation. The Watershed Fund helped the Challenge advance the use of fire to support a healthy, resilient forested landscape in the Blackfoot.   

  • 100 stakeholders engaged including volunteers, landowners, college students, teachers, community members, local businesses, conservation districts, nonprofits, municipal governments, and state and federal government agencies
  • 7 conservation practices implemented within the categories of:
    • Watershed resource education
    • Forest stand improvement to achieve desired objective(s)
  • 300 forest acres made more resilient
Future impacts on the Blackfoot Watershed and its communities:

The project set the foundation to make future on-the-ground prescribed burns more efficient, sustainable, coordinated, and ecologically relevant. This project has received additional funding to expand across the whole watershed and to engage Blackfoot communities in prescribed fire planning and implementation. To engage the community further, the Prescribed Fire Work Group has already offered tours of past burn projects. During these tours, participants learned about the planning process, how the burns were conducted, lessons learned, and post-burn maintenance.

Dave Lasky of the Gravitas Peak Module presenting at a public meeting in Ovando
Impact of the Watershed Fund:
  • Greater public awareness of resources concerns and conservation
  • Increased ability to complete projects that improve watershed resources
  • Greater focus on high-impact conservation projects
  • Cultivation of more inclusive and diverse partnerships
  • Stakeholder and community support for our work strengthened
  • Helped us cultivate relationships with funders