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Cathedral Mountain

Cathedral MountainCathedral Mountain Ranch (CMR) is situated near Nye, Montana at the end of Highway 419, in southern Stillwater County within the Stillwater watershed. It is comprised of approximately 280 acres, with about 40 cabins---eight full-time residences and the remaining vacation homes. It also houses a community lodge with four condominiums attached. The property adjoins the Custer National Forest on the western boundary and is about four miles from the northern boundary of the Absaroka/Beartooth Wilderness.

Cathedral MountainIts vegetation is mainly of fir trees, with some Ponderosa pine and much natural grass. The area contains a considerable amount of dead and dying limber pine. CMR is littered with dead and dying limber pines. Fearing they would encourage bark beetles, a few residents became concerned about forest health and started investigating the problem. They quickly learned the limber pine had a disease called blister rust.

The 2003 Cathedral Ridge and Saderbalm fires to CMR's south quickly elevated neighborhood concerns after residents were informed they were on an evacuation alert. These concerns prompted a volunteer committee that spearheaded an effort to improve wildfire awareness and investigate opportunities for wildfire mitigation grant funding. After many hours research, the committee learned of a Western States Wildland/Urban Interface (WUI) grant, The committee applied for the grant and was awarded approximately $35,000 on a 50:50 cost share basis with CMR.

Cathedral MountainThe committee met with DNRC personnel, the Montana. State WUI grant coordinator, a professional forester and local fire department personnel. Together, key program objectives were established. Work commenced in July 2004 and by Thanksgiving approximately 40 tons of slash had been removed to a burn pile. Work continued during spring and summer months. The grant was closed during the spring of 2006, with approximately 100 tons of slash having been removed. The committee is proud it was able to exceed its 'softmatch' by approximately $5,000.

During the grant work, CMR was encouraged to become recognized as a Firewise Communities/USA site. A Firewise committee was formed; a plan was written; an assessment was completed with help from a volunteer in the Nye Volunteer Fire Department. Firewise education was made available at the CMR HOA annual meeting and on a Firewise bulletin board. Educational materials were placed in the CMR Lodge and the CMR Board of Directors budgeted for several clean-up and chipper days.

Cathdral MountainThe committee continues to explore all wildfire mitigation avenues and is in a process of continuing education and improvement, especially after the late summer Derby fire. CMR was evacuated for two and one half days and our neighbors down river lost 26 homes. We have just recently received Firewise Communities/USA status and the committee remains committed to maintaining support for the Firewise program.

 To learn more about wildfire mitigation at Cathedral Mountain Ranch, visit its website and select the 'Fuel Reduction' section.