Tag Archives: Flathead National Forest

Forest Service seeks input on the ‘Crystal Cedar’ Project

Crystal Cedar Project General Vicinity Map
Crystal Cedar Project General Vicinity Map

From the official press release . . .

The Hungry Horse-Glacier View Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest is asking for public input on management opportunities on National Forest System lands north of Columbia Falls and west of the Flathead River. This area includes Crystal Creek, Cedar Flats, Spoon Lake, Blankenship, and Teakettle Mountain.

The Crystal Cedar project aims to reduce hazardous fuels in the wildland-urban interface, improve the health and diversity of forest vegetation communities, and provide a range of trail-based recreation opportunities near the community of Columbia Falls.

The Flathead National Forest wants to hear from you. We want to understand how the community uses the area and what types of management you want to see. Comments are most helpful if provided by December 15, 2017.

More details about the Crystal Cedar project area, a map of the project area, and instructions on how to provide information to the district can be found online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=52844. The Web site also allows you to subscribe to electronic updates on the project so you can stay up to date on project development.

To find out more about the project, please contact Sarah Canepa, project team leader, at the Hungry Horse Ranger Station, 406-387-3800.

Conservation groups to sue Flathead Forest over road management

Lake in Flathead National Forest
Lake in Flathead National Forest

A coalition of conservation groups intends to sue the Flathead Forest over their management of logging roads . . .

In what may be the first shot fired over the bow of the soon-to-be-released new Flathead National Forest land use plan, three conservation groups filed intent to sue over management of the logging roads on the 2.4-million acre forest.

The groups claim the forest hasn’t met its obligations under the Endangered Species Act to protect threatened bull trout due to inadequate management and monitoring of logging roads, in particular the thousands of culverts that can fail and deposit sediment into trout streams.

Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Weber said that while he can’t comment on the pending lawsuit, he will say the water quality on the Flathead Forest is the most pristine of any place he’s worked before, including Alaska.

Read more . . .

Next step in Flathead Forest Plan revision delayed a little longer

Lake in Flathead National Forest
Lake in Flathead National Forest

According to this note from Chip Weber, Flathead National Forest Supervisor, the next step in the forest plan revision is going to take just a little longer. They are still on track to wind the whole thing up in early 2018, though . . .

Hello,

I would like to update you on the status of the final environmental impact statement for the revised forest plan and the draft records of decision. In addition to addressing the effects of the Flathead National Forest revised forest plan, the final environmental impact statement includes discussion of the environmental consequences of the forest plan amendments to incorporate habitat-related management direction for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear population on the Helena-Lewis and Clark, Kootenai, and Lolo National Forests.

We had planned to have the documents out for the pre-decisional administrative review process; commonly referred to as the objection process in October however we now plan to release the documents in November pending the completion of some of the documents.  The schedule on our webpage has been updated to reflect this change. Continue reading Next step in Flathead Forest Plan revision delayed a little longer

Flathead Forest Plan final EIS and draft records of decision slated for October

Fireweed below Nasukoin Lake, Aug 12, 2017 - W. K. Walker
Fireweed below Nasukoin Lake, Aug 12, 2017 – W. K. Walker

We’re getting there, with a near-final version of the Flathead National Forest’s revised forest plan due out in October. Barring any significant further delays, the final version of the whole package should be released around March 2018.

From this afternoon’s official press release . . .

The Flathead National Forest release of the final environmental impact statement and draft records of decision for the revised forest plan and forest plan amendments is now slated for October due to the need to coordinate schedules with the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the U.S. Forest Service.

In addition to addressing the effects of the Flathead National Forest revised forest plan, the final environmental impact statement includes discussion of the environmental consequences of the forest plan amendments to incorporate habitat-related management direction for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear population on the Helena-Lewis and Clark, Kootenai, and Lolo National Forests.

The final environmental impact statement and draft records of decision will be subject to a pre-decisional administrative review process, commonly referred to as the objection process. The Forest Service’s objection process provides an opportunity to have any unresolved concerns reviewed by the Forest Service prior to a final decision by the responsible official. Objections will be accepted only from those who have previously submitted substantive formal comments during an opportunity for public participation provided during the planning process and attributed to the individual or entity providing them.

For more information, please call Joe Krueger, plan revision team leader, at 406-758-5243 or visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/flathead/fpr.

Read the full press release (PDF, 132KB).


Also, here is a related letter from Chip Weber, Flathead National Forest Supervisor, explaining the reasons behind the delay in this stage of the forest plan revision . . .

Hello,

I would like to update you on the status of the final environmental impact statement for the revised forest plan and the draft records of decision. In addition to addressing the effects of the Flathead National Forest revised forest plan, the final environmental impact statement includes discussion of the environmental consequences of the forest plan amendments to incorporate habitat-related management direction for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear population on the Helena-Lewis and Clark, Kootenai, and Lolo National Forests.

We had planned to have the documents out for the pre-decisional administrative review process, commonly referred to as the objection process, in August but because of the need to coordinate schedules with the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the U.S. Forest Service, we now plan to release the documents in October. The schedule on our webpage has been updated to reflect this change.

I appreciate your patience and continued interest in the revised forest plan for the Flathead National Forest as well as the forest plan amendments for the Helena-Lewis and Clark, Kootenai, and Lolo National Forests. I greatly appreciate the commitment of the interested participants who have provided important contributions toward the development of the revised forest plan and amendments.

For further information about the project, contact Joe Krueger, plan revision team leader, at 406-758-5243. Thank you for your continued interest in the management of your public lands.

Sincerely,

 Chip Weber
Forest Supervisor

Next step in forest plan revision delayed

Lake in Flathead National Forest
Lake in Flathead National Forest

The Flathead National Forest’s schedule for their new forest management plan has slipped a bit . . .

The next step in the years-long effort to develop a revised management plan for the Flathead National Forest, originally expected this month, won’t be rolled out until late August at the earliest.

Joe Krueger is leading the team to develop the 2.4 million-acre forest’s first management plan overhaul in the last 30 years. He said Friday the expected June release of the final environmental impact statement has been pushed back two months due to a combination of factors, including the need to coordinate extensively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the U.S. Forest Service.

“The time-frames take longer when you’re dealing with 33,000 comments, and we’re trying to keep it as accurate as possible,” Krueger said, adding that he’s also been diverted by several broad public-records requests submitted under the Freedom of Information Act.

Read more . . .

Flathead wild and scenic rivers – public information meeting, Apr 20

From the official press release . . .

The Flathead National Forest will be hosting a public meeting for all interested Flathead Wild and Scenic River users on April 20th at 5:30 p.m. at the Tally Lake/Forest Supervisor’s Office, 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, Montana.

The primary objective of the meeting is to provide updates and share information about Flathead Wild and Scenic River management. A secondary objective will be to explore interest and ideas about how to develop partnerships and volunteer opportunities for the management of the Flathead Wild and Scenic Rivers.

There will be variety of topics presented by agency managers from Flathead National Forest, Glacier National Park, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, followed by informal breakouts with local area river managers and agencies.

For more information, contact Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger Station at 387-3800, or Rob Davies at 387-3801.

As Forest plan unfolds, a mountain bike-wilderness debate re-emerges

Mountain Biker by Mick Lissone
Mountain Biker by Mick Lissone

Here’s a pretty good article by Chris Peterson of the Hungry Horse News about bikes in wilderness — specifically, about allowing mountain bikes in a possible North Fork wilderness area . . .

As the Flathead National Forest puts the finishing touches on a final Forest plan, one issue is rising to the forefront: Should bicycle use be allowed in areas that are recommended wilderness?

Central to the debate is proposed wilderness in the North Fork. Under alternative B in the draft plan, there’s about 80,000 acres of recommended wilderness in the plan in the upper end of the Whitefish Range north of Red Meadow Creek. Recommended wilderness is generally managed as wilderness, but under alternative B, the plan would allow continued mountain bike use in the region.

Read more . . .

Final draft of Flathead National Forest Plan rolls out in June

Lake in Flathead National Forest

It’s getting close. The final draft of the Flathead National Forest Plan will be released in June. There are actually two pieces: the final draft of the forest plan, along with the final version of the associated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which includes guidance for grizzly bear management in coordination with neighboring national forests.

Here’s the official press release . . .

Flathead National Forest Plan Revision Status

Kalispell, MT-February 21, 2017 – The Flathead National Forest released the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the draft revised Land and Resource Management Plan (draft forest plan) in late May 2016. The draft EIS also includes the environmental consequences of the draft forest plan amendments to incorporate habitat-related management direction for grizzly bears for the Helena-Lewis and Clark, Kootenai, and Lolo National Forests.

The comment period ended on October 3, 2016 for the draft EIS, the draft revised forest plan and draft forest plan amendments. The120-day comment period resulted in over 33,000 comments. Comments help the Forest Service identify the range of issues to be addressed, and the significant concerns related to the draft forest plan, draft amendments, and draft EIS, and are assisting the interdisciplinary team in developing and recommending a preferred alternative.

The final EIS and draft record of decision is expected to be released in June 2017 and will be subject to a pre-decisional administrative review process; commonly referred to as the objection process. The Forest Service’s objection process provides an opportunity to have any unresolved concerns reviewed by the Forest Service prior to a final decision by the responsible official. Objections will be accepted only from those who have previously submitted substantive formal comments during an opportunity for public participation provided during the planning process, and attributed to the individual or entity providing them. Continue reading Final draft of Flathead National Forest Plan rolls out in June

Get your Forest Plan comments in now! Deadline is Oct 3!

Lake in Flathead National Forest
Lake in Flathead National Forest

Dear North Fork Preservation Association Member,

With all of the wild public lands in the North Fork, there is not one acre of designated Wilderness….yet.  This needs to change and YOU can play a significant role in this by writing a comment on the Flathead Forest Plan TODAY!

The Flathead National Forest is in the midst of its forest planning process.  Several years ago, members of NFPA participated in the Whitefish Range Partnership (WRP), a local citizen collaborative, in anticipation of the forest planning process.  The WRP represented various interests (loggers, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, backcountry horsemen, and wilderness advocates) and consensus was reached on 83,000 acres of proposed wilderness in the northern Whitefish Range.  This area includes the most spectacular peaks in the Whitefish Range: Nasukoin, Tuchuck, Hefty, Thompson-Seton, and Review.  We are hoping that the Flathead National Forest will include the northern Whitefish Range as Recommended Wilderness in their final Forest Plan and not allow any non-conforming uses in recommended wilderness.  (Recommended Wilderness is the first step in getting this area designated as Wilderness by Congress.)

A personal letter from you makes the biggest impact.  If you have hiked any of these peaks, please mention this in your letter.  If you don’t have time to write a personal letter and want the easy way, just go to www.wildmontana.org/flathead and add your name and contact information to the letter that was written by the Montana Wilderness Association.

If you write your own personalized letter, send it to:

Chip Weber
Forest Supervisor
Flathead National Forest
650 Wolfpack Way
Kalispell, MT 59901

Please include support for the following things:

For the North Fork—

  1. Recommended Wilderness in the northern Whitefish Range following the map submitted by the Whitefish Range Partnership.
  2. Manage recommended Wilderness just like designated Wilderness, prohibiting motorized use and mountain biking.

For other areas in the Flathead National Forest–

  1. Expansion of the Bob Marshall Wilderness northward in the Swan Range to protect the Bunker and upper Sullivan Creek area
  2. Protect the Greater Jewel Basin, especially the western slope of the Swan Range, in recommended Wilderness.
  3. Expansion of the Mission Mountains Wilderness to include the lower-elevations, species rich-lands adjacent to it.
  4. Manage recommended Wilderness just like designated Wilderness, prohibiting motorized use and mountain biking.

Also, please support Alternative 3 in the Environmental Impact Statement to keep core grizzly bear habitat managed at the level that it has been in the past…… whether or not the grizzly is delisted.

We have a receptive Forest administration and a good chance of getting recommended wilderness additions if there are lots of comments from citizens.  Your comment is very important!  You can make a real difference! Thanks for taking the time to do this!  The deadline is October 3, so please submit your comments today!!

 

Warm Regards,
Debo Powers, NFPA President
NFPApresident@gravel.org

Prescribed fires planned for the Flathead

From the official press release . . .

Ranger Districts on the Flathead National Forest are planning to conduct multiple fall season prescribed fire projects, when weather, fuel conditions, and air quality is favorable. Burning is expected to start as early as September 16, and will continue through the close of open burning season on November 30, 2015. Smoke will be visible from various places in the Flathead Valley depending on the location of the burn units and weather conditions.

Each project follows a Prescribed Fire Burn Plan. The prescribed fire projects are located, designed and controlled to reduce the potential for adverse effects or escape as a wildland fire. These projects will be in compliance with Montana air quality standards and coordinated with Montana State Department of Environmental Quality to reduce the impacts of smoke to our neighbors, cooperators, and surrounding communities. The project areas include:
Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger Districts

  • Red Whale Creek Area – A 1114 acre project is planned in the Red Whale Creek drainage in the North Fork of the Flathead about four miles north of Polebridge. Depending on weather, this burn is planned for the next few weeks. The purpose of the project is to help restore a more historical fire regime to the ecosystem, improve wildlife habitat and reduce hazardous fuels to reduce wildfire risk and aid in potential future fire suppression efforts. In the same area about 31 acres of piles from logging slash will be burned.
  • Heinrude Fuels Project – This work involves burning about 22 acres of debris piles adjacent to Heinrude Creek and the West-side Hungry Horse Reservoir road near the Heinrude cabins.
  • Belton Fuels Project – This project includes the burning of about 15 acres of debris piles adjacent to private property in West Glacier and 176 acres of scattered debris piles between Coram and West Glacier.
  • Essex Area – Work involves the burning of several debris piles and logging slash in the Essex area.
  • Slippery Bill – Work involves the burning of several debris piles and logging slash.
  • Firefighter – Work involves the burning of several debris piles and logging slash.

Tally Lake Ranger District

  • Beaver Lake North Fuels Reduction Project – This project involves the burning of about 5 acres of debris piles adjacent to private property about five miles west of Whitefish.
  • Valley Face Fuels Reduction Project – Work involves the burning of about 69 acres of debris piles adjacent to private property about eight miles southwest of Whitefish along the Tally Lake Road.
  • Ashley Communications Site Project – Work involves the burning of about 4 acres of hand piles around the communications site.
  • Logan 200 Project – Work involves the burning of about 180 acres of hand piles at the north end of Tally Lake east of the campground.
  • Sharptail Project – Work involves the burning of about 17 acres of mechanical piles just off the Star Meadows road.
  • Ashley Lake Project – Work involves the burning of 76 acres of mechanical piles west of Ashley Lake.
  • Herrig Creek Project – Work involves the burning of 95 acres of mechanical piles 2.5 miles north of Little Bitterroot Lake.

Spotted Bear Ranger District

  • Horse Ridge – This project includes burning units along the ridge to the east the East Side Road and north of Spotted Bear complex.
  • Miscellaneous Piles – Piles around the district from a variety of projects will be burned.

Swan Lake Ranger District

  • Wild Cramer – This project includes broadcast and under burning in stands located within the Blacktail Mountain area west of Lakeside, MT. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, vegetation regeneration, and wildlife habitat improvement.
  • Condon Fuels – This project includes broadcast burning in timber stands located within the Condon Fuels project area around Condon, MT in the Swan Valley. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, vegetation regeneration, and wildlife habitat improvement.
  • Pile Burning – Hand or machine piles are located in several locations within the Swan Valley, Blacktail Mountain, Haskill Mountain and miscellaneous piles around the district as a result of but not limited to: logging, hazardous fuels reduction in the wildland urban interface, hazard tree removal, recreation site management and trail or road construction. These piles are burned to reduce fuel loads in these areas. These piles are strategically burned based on their location, access, and weather conditions.

For more information about these projects contact the appropriate Ranger Station:

  • Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger Districts: 406/387-3800
  • Tally Lake Ranger District: 406/758-5204
  • Spotted Bear Ranger District: 406-758-5376
  • Swan Lake Ranger District: 406/837-7500