Governor Gianforte Announces Good Neighbor Authority Timber Sale To Begin In Libby

HELENA,MT (STL.News) Governor Greg Gianforte announced that the first Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) Timber Sale in Lincoln County is scheduled to begin operations this month.

“The Good Neighbor Authority Timber Sale in Libby is a promising step forward as we work to more actively manage our federal lands.  I’m committed to increasing our use of the Good Neighbor Authority so we can have healthier forests, prevent catastrophic wildfires, improve wildlife habitat, increase recreational opportunities, and bring back good-paying Montana timber jobs,” Governor Gianforte said.

The GNA project named “Skidale” is located approximately one mile southwest of the intersection of US Hwy 2 and MT 37, on the Parmenter Creek Road.  The project was analyzed by the U.S. Forest Service under the Skidale Wildfire Resiliency Project, signed in October 2019 by Libby District Ranger, Nathan Gassmann.

“The Skidale Good Neighbor Authority project is a significant success story!  While small in acreage it has been one of our most critical areas in our community wildfire protection plan,” Lincoln County Commissioner Mark Peck said.

The Good Neighbor Authority was permanently established under the 2014 Farm Bill.  It allows states, counties, and tribes to enter into agreements to work as agents of the federal government and conduct authorized restoration services on National Forest System Lands.  Using GNA, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation entered into an agreement with the Kootenai National Forest to prepare, award, and administer harvest activities for the GNA Skidale project.

“The Skidale project is a great example of how agencies working together can get more work done,” Libby District Ranger Nathan Gassmann said.

The state contract was awarded to Kneller Logging Inc of Libby for $45.71 per ton.  Operations are expected to start this month. During the period of activity, the trail system will be put on a closure order for public safety due to felling, skidding and processing activities while the sale is underway.  Trail closure signs will be posted at all access points.

Benefits to the community as a result of this project include the reduction of hazardous fuels in the wildland-urban interface to decrease the potential for high intensity wildfire, and increased forest resilience to insect and disease occurrence.  This project is the result of several years of partnership building, and collaborative work by the community of Libby, Lincoln County FireSafe Council, the Kootenai National Forest, and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.