Apr. 7—With the COVID-19 pandemic softening, many virtual meetings are now a combination of in-person and Zoom which was the case with the Mineral County Resource Coalition last Tuesday.
The diverse group of citizens meet to create a dialogue with the intent of finding resolution to the issues facing natural resource management on public lands in Western Montana with an emphasis on Mineral County.
They support active forest management to improve forest health, maintain water and air quality, reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, restore wildlife and fish habitat, improve recreational opportunities, and provide a consistent, reliable and sustainable source of timber to the local timber industry.
Several different organizations and government agencies are involved and Jim Ward with the U.S. Forest Service reported the Savenac fishing pond in DeBorgia received a grant to deepen the floor and build a boardwalk around it as a safety precaution for young anglers. The date of the annual kids fishing day will be announced soon.
Ward also shared the informative and interpretive signs for the Cedar Creek drainage are being constructed that will share the rich history of the mining camps and now ghost towns of the area.
The east and west bound Quartz Rest Areas on I-90 both will be closed for construction in mid-March for a year but the US Forest Service campgrounds on both sides will remain open.
The end result will be larger parking areas to accommodate increased truck traffic. New family-style or single-occupancy restrooms with improved lighting, safety features and heating in the common areas.
The Feb. 1 'high wind event' caused extensive blowdown and an aerial review to access the damage is being organized.
There are currently eight active timber sales and the Redd Bull objection period closes March 18. But as of March, open burning is allowed, and permits are not needed until May.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 2 biologist Liz Bradley reported that the mountain lion harvest was slow until the February snows improved tracking conditions.
They are conducting a research project on them and should have preliminary information this summer as they set the quotas for the upcoming season. She will be doing the annual aerial census of elk, deer and moose at the end of March.
The Timber Committee had Willie Peck with Idaho Forest Group in St. Regis reporting they are running two shifts with 120 employees. Cody Daiutolo at Thompson River Lumber said they are running one shift with 60 employees, but, both mills are accepting work applications.
Finally, a sub-committee of the Recreation Committee is exploring an idea of a public bike ride from Superior to Saltese using a combination of USFS roads and trails.
Participants would have an option to stop in St. Regis or continue to Saltese where trucks transfer the riders and bicycles back to the St. Regis Community Park for a big barbeque and festival.
The event would be developed to bring bicycle riders to Mineral County to experience the beauty and see the recreational opportunities.
Before adjournment, the next meeting was set for 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 6 in the Mineral County Commissioners Office. All meetings are open to the public.