The NWTF collaborated with the USDA Forest Service and the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks on the Frenchtown Face Project – a project just west of Missoula, Montana, focused on prescribed burning and thinning ground cover in the Lolo National Forest to help wildlife and improve habitat.
Prescribed burning on 531 total acres of this area in the national forest has opened up habitat for the wild turkey to feed, mate, nest, roost and raise poults. The project involved controlled burning and cutting of brush on the forest floor to reduce the risk of catastrophic fire in the forest and also nearby neighborhoods.
The efforts stimulated plant growth for an enriched wild turkey habitat to produce seeds for food, as well as plant cover and protection from predators. In addition, this project provided elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, other upland game birds and the flammulated owl with better habitat and food options.
While the execution of the project only lasted 26 days, its benefits will last anywhere from 10 to 20 years and continue to develop.
This project is one part of a larger project on the Ninemile Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest. The overall project, which has been running since 2011 under the guidance of Jeffrey Hayes, was given one of the NWTF’s Making Tracks awards in 2019. The annual honor is presented to leaders of projects that promote the wellbeing of wild turkeys over multiple years.
— Heiler Meek