A number of local organizations and the Bitterroot National Forest personnel will be working on roads, signs, weeds, riparian areas and more this summer.

The Ravalli County Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) has approved many more projects than in recent years. The RAC is a group of local citizens that ask for project proposal submissions either on the Bitterroot National Forest or will help the general environment. Todd McKay of the Bitterroot National Forest said this year's $400,000 worth of work will be spread throughout the valley and will involve quite a few organizations.

They include Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the Bitterroot Water Forum, the Bitterroot Land Trust, Defenders of Wildlife, the Selway-Frank Church Wilderness Foundation, Bitterroot Trout Unlimited, Ravalli County Weed Department, Ravalli County Road Department and Bitterroot Back Country Cyclists. Project proposals from those and other organizations were reviewed last month.

Some of the projects that came from applications to the RAC this year include a bridge replacement at the Bass Creek Nature Trail, West Fork river access improvements, New trail signs at Lake Como, Burnt Fork Creek fisheries, riparian and recreation improvements, St Mary's Peak Lookout stewardship program, Willow Creek Cross Road culvert, Bertie Lord Creek forest road culvert replacement, Bitterroot Bighorn Sheep habitat enhancement, and efforts to reduce bear-human conflicts on the Bitterroot National Forest.

McKay said, "We couldn't do a lot of the work we need to do on this forest without the incredible relationship with our partners." The Resource Advisory Committees throughout the nation were established and are funded by the federal Secure Rural School and Community Self-Determination Act back in 2000. Since 2001, the Ravalli County RAC has approved almost $2.5 million in project funding.

Leftovers from a black bears' picnic. (Bitterroot National Forest-provided photo)

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