Public comments are being accepted on a proposed timber project southeast of Hamilton on the Bitterroot National Forest. The Bitterroot National Forest has completed the Environmental Analysis (EA) on the Darby Lumber Lands Project - Phase 2. That includes about 27,000 acres in the South Fork of Sleeping Child and Rye Creek drainage in the Sapphire Mountains east of Darby.

Public Affairs Officer Tod McKay said the public can review and make comments on the proposal until November 20th. Phase 1 was completed in 2016, emphasizing motorized access and loop-based routes for motorcycles and ATV's. Phase 2 would continue design and creating a transportation system, along with harvest of Douglas fir mistletoe and thinning of other areas. Commercial harvest would include about 1,000 acres, non-commercial thinning on over 300 acres of dry pine, and prescribed burning in other areas.

McKay reported that three diseased Douglas fir stands would be cut, followed by planting of Ponderosa Pine trees. Other thinning would leave mature Ponderosa Pine trees at historic densities. Some roads would be closed, while two new connector trails for motorized vehicles are planned, along with several temporary roads.

The EA is available online at the Forest Service website. Copies are also at the Darby/Sula Ranger District and the Bitterroot Forest Supervisor's Office in Hamilton.

Send comments to Eric Winthers, District Ranger, P.O. Box 388, Darby, Montana, 59829, FAX: (406) 821-4264, or email:

Comments should include: 1) name, address, phone number, and organization represented, if any; 2) title of the project on which the comments are being submitted; and 3) substantive comments including specific facts and supporting information. If you're e-mailing: please put “Comments on Darby Lumber Lands – Phase 2 Project” in the subject line. All comments are open to public inspection and will be posted to the Forest Service website. For more information or questions about the project, contact Eric Winthers, Darby/Sula District Ranger at (406) 821-3913 or

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