Neighborhood NewsGreat Falls - Cascade County


Storm debris clean-up continues in Monarch and Neihart areas

In May, a storm tore thousands of trees down in the Monarch and Neihart areas
Posted at 5:45 PM, Jun 17, 2024

In May, a powerful winter storm tore down thousands of trees in the Monarch and Neihart areas. A month later, clean-up efforts are still underway, with debris lining Highway 89.

Cascade County Disaster & Emergency Services is working with the USDA Forest Service and Farm Service Agency to form the best plan of action for this long term recovery effort.

Currently, the team is working towards securing grant funding for field mitigation efforts.

Cascade County Disaster and Emergency Services Director Joey Zahara explained, “We have a lot of different parts and pieces to the puzzle. We're gathering the team, putting them together to be able to provide the best service that we can to those residents up there. We're still in that phase of building the team, finding avenues for funding and stuff like that.”

As of right now, the county is looking at a Post-Fire grant through the state DES to allow them to do some field mitigation. The grant process will take some time, especially due to some of the grants requiring funds to match.

Zahara says, “We have to find our funding stream, find the grant that matches what's up there, and then we also have to agree that we can match the larger effort of the funding from the federal government. And then if we do that, then we can go and keep the ball rolling.”

Other agencies have also been out cleaning up the area including the Montana Department of Transportation and Public Works.

A debris site was established, about a quarter mile up the road to Hoover Creek, for residents and agencies to dispose of trees and downed limbs. The county asks that residents use the site for debris only, and not dump trash or other items at the site.

With the extra debris on the ground, another concern is that the area is even more susceptible to rapidly spreading wildfires.

Cascade County Disaster & Emergency Services is taking extra steps to plan rapid response efforts in the event of a fire.

This includes making sure access points are open that there are paths to get resources where they need to be.

Plans for the cleanup include the Forest Service planning a flight in order to do more damage assessments as well as a joint clean-up day with NorthWestern Energy.

Assessing storm damage in Monarch and Neihart