1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

Double Arrow Ranch

Double Arrow RanchThe Double Arrow Ranch community is located in the Seeley-Swan valley, adjacent to Seeley Lake, Montana. The community was established in the early 1970's and consists of about 740 lots ranging in size from approximately 1 1/2 to ten acres. There are over 400 homes built on the Double Arrow in heavily forested terrain bounded by state and national forest lands. The forest on the ranch consists of a mix of tree species with a majority of lodgepole pine in the lower areas of the development. The lodgepole forest is about 100 years old and a mountain pine beetle infestation has had a devastating effect on it, resulting in thousands of dead and dying trees that could provide excellent fuel for a wildfire. In addition, many lots have an abundance of small trees, deadfall and brush.

The Double Arrow Fire Safety Committee (FSC) formally established in 1997, became more active following a nearby wildfire in 2003. In 2006, the FSC embarked on an even more proactive approach to educate and assist landowners in fuel mitigation and forest health. The committee assessed the need for fuels mitigation on a significant number of lots. Landowners were contacted with information about their lots and how they could lower the risk of wildfire destroying their (and their neighbors') property. The program included informational meetings, mailings, telephone and "neighbor to neighbor" contacts and was accompanied by information about obtaining grants to mitigate cost and a list of contractors available to do the work.

Double Arrow RanchIn 2007, the Jocko Lakes fire directly threatened the entire community of Seeley Lake, including the Double Arrow Ranch, driving home the point that more work needed to be done. The Jocko Lakes fire heightened awareness of the threat of fire among DARLOA landowners, and emphasized that the Fire Safety Committee was on the right track with its past efforts. The continuing goal is to develop tools and educational programs designed to enlist landowner support and encourage them to take action to maintain good forest health and mitigate fire risk. The FSC provides assistance to landowners in completing thinning applications and applying for matching grants to defray the cost. Several contractors were identified who are willing to treat fuels in exchange for the wood--- a "wood for work" program that has been very successful. In addition, residents needing firewood have assisted in the effort at no cost to landowners.

In May 2008 the Fire Safety Committee sponsored a seminar that shared information about mitigation and creating defensible space, which was open to both landowners and Seeley Lake residents. Speakers from the Seeley Lake Volunteer Fire Department, Bitterroot Resource Conservation and Development, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) and US Forest Service provided excellent information. The seminar was well attended and another is planned for May 2009.

Double Arrow RanchToday, of the 650 acres identified as being at critical risk for fire, 136 have been mitigated and landowners have committed to work on an additional 100 acres for 2009. In addition, a Fire Safety Committee project thinned a 24-acre common area that now provides a firebreak between DNRC land and the Double Arrow Community. The funds from sale of the wood from that project are being used for a variety of fire safety efforts, including creating turnouts on the roads to improve emergency vehicle access and adding signage on all roads to assist firefighters in locating fire sites more quickly.

We applied for and received Firewise Communities/USA status in the fall of 2008. There is still much work to do and we continue to move forward with our local, state and federal partners to ensure the health of our forest and safety for our landowners for years to come. We would be pleased to share our ongoing efforts, successes and lessons learned with the national community. If you would like more information, please visit our website.