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After more than five years, the Gallatin National Forest has finalized its environmental impact statement for the Lonesome Wood Vegetation Management 2 project along the west shore of Hebgen Lake.

The project is expected to last six to nine years and would use thinning and prescribed burns to improve firefighter and public safety in the wildland-urban interface, which includes an evacuation road. The 18-mile access road leads to numerous developed recreation facilities, private homes and a popular recreation area.

The EIS researched three alternative projects. The preferred alternative was chosen to address environmental and social issues raised during earlier public comment periods.

The preferred alternative includes a variety of treatments, including thinning more than 2,500 acres using mechanized and hand methods. More than 300 acres will be slashed and burned.

About 370 acres in the Lionhead Inventoried Roadless Area will be thinned and burned. Machines will be used on about 50 acres.

Five to six miles of temporary road will be built and then reclaimed. No roads will be constructed in the roadless area.

The public can appeal the project once the record of decision is published around the end of November. The EIS document is available at the Gallatin National Forest website.

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