Glacier Park and Flathead Forest restart management planning for Three Forks of the Flathead River — finally

From the official joint press release . . .

Joint Release: New Project Leader Joins the Comprehensive River Management Planning Effort for the Three Forks of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River

North Fork of the Flathead River - ©Mark LaRowe
North Fork of the Flathead River – ©Mark LaRowe

Release Date: 

Kalispell, MT, May 6, 2024 — The Flathead National Forest and Glacier National Park are working together to reengage in the Comprehensive River Management Plan (CRMP) for the three forks of the Flathead River. “We are bringing on a new project leader who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in Wild and Scenic River planning” says Rob Davies, Hungry Horse-Glacier District Ranger. “Our aim is a cohesive interdisciplinary, interagency team with aligned vision, working together on a plan for all the three forks, now and going into the future”. Our new team leader has experience with river management plans from across the nation and joins us from the U.S. Forest Service Washington Office’s Wilderness, Wild and Scenic Rivers Program.

The Flathead National Forest began the planning effort in 2018 and released a proposed action in 2019, which included public scoping and a series of public meetings. While plan development experienced periods of delay in 2020 and again in 2023, the Flathead National Forest and Glacier National Park continued to analyze public input from the 2019 public engagement efforts and work towards drafting a plan for the next phase of public participation.

“Glacier National Park is excited to work collaboratively with the Forest, various stakeholders and the public to preserve the outstanding, remarkable values represented in the Three Forks of the Flathead River,” says Phil Wilson, Division Chief for Science and Resource Management, Glacier National Park. “The Wild and Scenic Forks of the Flathead River are important, not just for their ecological significance, but also for the recreational enjoyment afforded to the community and park visitors.”

The Comprehensive River Management Plan will protect and enhance the outstandingly remarkable values identified in the original Wild and Scenic designation (1976) and update the existing 1986 river management plan to maintain compliance with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, reflecting and accounting for the changes that have occurred since the Wild and Scenic designation, including visitor use patterns, environmental condition, Endangered Species Act species listing, and other laws that affect resources within the Wild and Scenic River corridor.

This plan will provide direction towards meeting and maintaining desired conditions, as well as monitoring indicators, triggers and thresholds for adjustment to management for the Flathead Wild and Scenic River into the future. Plan implementation is driven by three primary mechanisms: intergovernmental coordination, individual agency action, and partnerships with non-governmental organizations and the public. Future projects and site-specific activities must be consistent with the regulatory guidance provided in the CRMP, as well as the Flathead Forest Plan.

The team anticipates a draft plan to be available for public review by autumn 2024. In the coming months, the emphasis is on completing the draft plan with a recreation capacity analysis, incorporating the latest monitoring data as well as development work completed since 2020.

Once the draft plan is available for public review, the Forest will initiate the environmental analysis process (NEPA analysis), which will include opportunities for public involvement and comment. Those interested in participating and submitting comments can expect public meetings and notification of comment periods through the following website:

This webpage is updated as new information is available. To join the email list, visit the project webpage above and click “Subscribe to Email Updates” on the right sidebar menu under “Get Connected”.

Additional information on the Comprehensive River Management Plan and the development of the plan to date can be found at:

Enjoy this upcoming season on the river, leave things as you found them or better yet, leave things better than you found them, and above all, be safe.