Thursday, August 05, 2021

Tree-thinning project planned near Dayton

Daily Inter Lake | June 18, 2021 12:00 AM

The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public input on a proposed tree-thinning and reforestation project in the Dayton area southwest of Lakeside. The deadline to comment is July 9.

The planned project area covers roughly 8,000 acres of national forestland generally west of Lakeside, north of Lake Mary Ronan and south of the Blacktail Mountain Ski Area. The land is within the Swan Lake Ranger District, adjoins multiple private properties and is considered highly susceptible to disease and insect infestations.

Within the project area, the Forest Service said about 1,227 acres would be treated or thinned "to reduce the number of trees infected with Armillaria root disease, fir engraver, Douglas-fir beetle and various dwarf mistletoe outbreaks."

The agency also plans to replace some tree stands with more resilient species such as ponderosa pine, Western white pine and Western larch. The project would involve the construction of about 1.8 miles of temporary road.

The Forest Service noted Lakeside is especially vulnerable to wildfires, and portions of the project area are designated as "wildland-urban interface," meaning fire can spread quickly from natural vegetation to homes and other buildings.

The agency drafted the current plan after holding a public meeting about the project in early May. More information and planning documents can be found on the agency's website.

Comments can be submitted via email to, and questions can be sent to project leader Kyle Stetler at

Forest Service spokeswoman Tami MacKenzie said disease and insect infestations kill trees and increase the threat of fire in the area, and so the agency is treating the project as a "categorical exclusion," a streamlined process that does not involve a second public comment period or an objection period.

Assistant editor Chad Sokol may be reached at 406-758-4439 or