A sign designating the boundary of the logging project in the North Bridgers on Oct. 15, 2020, off Fairy Lake Road. The marked trees are those that the Forest Service has decided to keep, while the unmarked trees will be logged.

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Officials on Tuesday announced plans to temporarily close the upper portion of Fairy Lake Road as logging operations for the North Bridgers Forest Health Project continue.

The Forest Service plans to close the upper stretch of Forest Service Road no. 74 for up to two weeks starting at 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 18, according to Melanie Cota, an implementation coordinator for the Custer Gallatin National Forest’s Bozeman and Hebgen Lake Districts.

All vehicle and foot traffic on Fairy Lake Road above Mile Marker 4.4 near the Carrol Creek Trailhead will be prohibited at that time. The road will be gated and signs will be posted around the area, Cota said.

People can access Fairy Lake via a 2 mile long hike along Fairy Creek Trail no. 500. They can park at the Carrol Creek Trailhead.

Crews with Sun Mountain Lumber, the logging company contracted for the timber project, are set to fell large-diameter trees adjacent to Fairy Lake Road for a two-week period, Cota said. Heavy equipment will be working along the road, which is very narrow in some places.

The contractor felt a temporary closure was needed to keep people safe, Cota said. If the work is finished earlier than expected, the Forest Service will reopen the upper portion of the road.

“We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause, but this short-term closure is needed for public safety which is always our top priority,” said Corey Lewellen, Bozeman district ranger, in a news release.

Ever since road work and logging activities for the North Bridgers project started a month ago, crews have made good progress on the work, according to Cota. She guessed that logging operations would end by January.

Crews have been felling and hauling timber around South Brackett Creek and Fairy Lake Road, Cota said. Additional road or trail closures may be needed in the future.

Forest Service officials expect they’ll have to close Fairy Creek Forest Service Trail no. 500 from the Battle Ridge Trailhead sometime in the future. It will likely happen when active logging starts there later this fall.

The North Bridgers timber project is an effort by the Forest Service to limit the chances that a high-severity wildfire occurs at the northern end of the Bridgers. The goal is to remove trees that are susceptible to insect and disease, minimize fuel loading from dying trees and decrease fuel build-up. The project lies within the Wildland Urban Interface.

“Visitors should expect to see increased traffic, construction, and logging equipment in the area, including log hauling on popular roads like Fairy Lake and South Brackett Creek,” Forest Service officials wrote. “The project is following extensive mitigation measures to protect public resources, as well as a follow up monitoring to determine project success.”

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Helena Dore can be reached at hdore@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628.

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