The wildfire season of 2000 had profound and far-reaching effects on forests in Montana. The Bear Fire blackened more than 12,000 acres of the Sula State Forest. The loss of 63 homes, wildlife habitat, grazing lands, commercial timber and other resources was devastating and costly to all Montanans. The fires occurred on trust lands, aptly named because they support financial trusts for education. The fires burned with such intensity that natural regeneration of the forest is not possible in many areas. In order to re-establish a forest on these sites, manual replanting is necessary. In 2002 American Forests, along with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, planted of 13,060 trees in the Sula State Forest to assist in the reforestation of this area. The restoration of this damaged area will not only reduce erosion and provide stabilization to stream banks, but also restore wildlife habitat that is essential to several sensitive species, such as lynx, grizzly bear, bald eagle, gray wolf, flammulated owl, peregrine falcon, boreal owl, fisher woodpecker and pileated woodpecker. Other species that will benefit ate bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout, elk, mule deer, whitetail deer and bighorn sheep.
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