NMI’s Montana Area office located in Helena, MT opened in the spring of 2001 and recently completed its 5th year of operation. Gary Ellingson, Montana Area Manager, is often asked to describe the various services NMI provides in Montana. The answer is as diverse as the clientele that NMI serves.
Wildfire hazard mitigation is a significant concern across Montana. NMI has assisted hundreds of individual property owners and several communities with planning and implementation of fuel reduction projects in the wildland urban interface. Fuel reduction methods utilized include hand thinning, mechanical treatment, pruning, chipping, burning and marketing of wood products. Projects are completed in a cost-effective and environmentally sensitive manner. County-wide fuel mitigation plans are prepared utilizing Geographic Information Systems and assistance from skilled staff in the Moscow office. NMI works closely with local, state and federal government officials as well as local community members and rural fire departments to design projects. Should a wildfire occur NMI assists landowners with burn reclamation activities such as timber salvage, erosion control and reforestation.
Timber Sale Administration is also a key service. NMI foresters work with clients to design and implement timber harvests and market wood products. NMI has established a reputation for conducting environmentally sensitive timber harvests on lands held under conservation easements by groups such as The Montana Land Reliance, The Gallatin Valley Land Trust, and the Elk Foundation. A variety of timber harvesting technology, including helicopters is used to achieve the objectives of landowners and maintain conservation values.
Forest Management Planning services are provided to landowners who seek professional advice on how best to manage their forested property. Timber inventory information is utilized to determine timber volume, tree stocking rates and species composition. NMI foresters prepare silvicultural prescriptions that will achieve desired future conditions for individual forest stands. Management plans include detailed maps, recommended projects, schedules and estimated costs and income associated with various forest treatments.
Montana is a vast state and NMI staff walk a lot of it each year while preparing timber sales, completing timber inventories, assessing wildfire hazards, planting trees and burning slash. In the office foresters use technology such as satellite imagery, GPS data and computer models to plan projects and complete cost estimates. This combination of woods sense, technology and education has allowed NMI to become a success in Montana. We look forward to the next 5 years.