Tag Archives: Forest Plan revision

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 . . .

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

Reminder: Flathead National Forest announces next forest plan open house

Review Basin - Flathead NF - W. K. Walker
Review Basin – Flathead NF – W. K. Walker

The Flathead National Forest is having another in a series of open houses on September 8 regarding their “forest plan, plan amendments and draft environmental impact statement.”

This is a fairly big deal. They’re deciding how to manage the forest for the next 20 years or so, including such things as timber management, wilderness, recreation, travel and, in conjunction with surrounding forests, items like how to handle grizzly bear de-listing.

Here’s the announcement . . .

Open House Notice

Flathead National Forest Plan Revision, Plan Amendments, and Draft Environmental Impact Statement

You are invited to attend an open house on the Flathead National Forest draft forest plan, plan amendments, and draft environmental impact statement.

The purpose of the draft forest plan is to provide for long-term sustainability of ecosystems and desired ecosystem services. The draft forest plan describes the Forest’s distinctive roles and contributions within the broader landscape and details forest-wide, management area, and geographic area desired conditions, objectives, standards, and guidelines. The revised forest plan identifies suitable uses of National Forest System lands and estimates of the planned timber sale quantity for the Forest. The draft revised plan identifies priority watersheds for restoration, and includes the evaluation of recommended wilderness areas and eligible wild and scenic rivers. The purpose and need for the four forest amendments for the Helena, Lewis and Clark, Kootenai, and Lolo National Forests, along with the revised forest plan for the Flathead National Forest, is to ensure the adequacy of regulatory mechanisms regarding habitat protection across the national forests in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem in support of the de-listing of the grizzly bear.

During the open house the planning team will be available to answer any questions you may have. There will not be a formal presentation. You can plan to stop in at any time during the open house.

Thursday, September 8, 2016, 4:30-7:00 p.m., Flathead National Forest Supervisors Office, 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell MT 59901

Documents and maps are available on-line, as well as information about how to comment, at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/flathead/fpr. The comment period ends on October 3, 2016.

Road management a hot topic in new forest plan

Gate Across Hay Creek Rd, Flathead NF, April 16, 2016 - W. K. Walker
Gate Across Hay Creek Rd, Flathead NF, April 16, 2016 – W. K. Walker

Even something as commonplace as roads is a hot topic in the new forest plan . . .

The Flathead National Forest will likely change the way it manages its roads when a new Forest Plan is adopted and at least one environmental group isn’t happy with the change.

Three of the four alternatives listed in a recently released draft forest plan will not utilize provisions in Amendment 19, the controversial standard that has resulted in the closure of more than 700 miles of roads across the forest in the past couple of decades.

Under Amendment 19, biologists divided the Forest habitat into grizzly bear subunits and in each subunit, the Forest was to strive for a formula that allowed for 19 percent open roads, 19 percent total roads, and 68 percent core grizzly habitat with no roads.

Read more . . .

Flathead Forest holds open house to discuss draft revised management plan

From a Headwaters Montana bulletin . . .

The Flathead National Forest has released its long-anticipated “Draft Revised Management Plan” for the 2.3 million-acre forest. This revised plan will set the course for forest management for the next 15-20 years. Because of the anticipated longevity, it’s very important that folks who enjoy and appreciate our local national treasure to show up and participate in the revision process.

You have two opportunities to attend an open house hosted by the Flathead Forest to learn more about the proposed plan and demonstrate your interest.

Kalispell
When: Monday, June 20, from 2-6pm
Where: The Flathead National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 650 Wolfpack Way

Missoula
When: June 22, from 2-6pm
Where:
Hilton Garden Inn, 3720 N. Reserve Street


Want to read up on the Forest Plan before you get there? Go here. (Hint: Start with the maps and Appendix G.)

Partnership works to keep collaborative efforts in final forest plan

Round 2 begins . . .

As the revised Flathead National Forest Plan enters the most recent phase of public comment, members of a diverse coalition of stakeholders who collaborated on the draft document are regrouping to weave a spirit of collaboration into the final plan.

Formed in 2012, the Whitefish Range Partnership is a coalition of longtime adversaries who banded together to help inform management of public lands on the Flathead National Forest.

After nearly three years of meetings and analysis, the Flathead National Forest released the draft version of its revised forest plan last month, unveiling a proposed blueprint for all aspects of management on the Flathead National Forest, from recreational opportunities to designated wilderness, timber production, wildlife and habitat.

Read more . . .


Want to read up on the Forest Plan? Go here. (Hint: Start with the maps and Appendix G.)

Flathead Forest releases draft Forest Plan environmental impact statement

Lake in Flathead National Forest

Two things here: the official press release (including the humongous, unabbreviated title) and a link to an article in the Hungry Horse News providing an articulate summary . . .

Release of Draft Revised Plan for the Flathead National Forest, the Forest Plan Amendments for Helena and Lewis and Clark, Lolo, and Kootenai National Forests and Draft Environmental Impact Statement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service today released the draft revised land and resource management plan (draft forest plan) and draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the Flathead National Forest for public review and comment. In addition to the effects of the draft forest plan, the DEIS includes the environmental consequences of the proposed forest plan amendments to incorporate habitat management direction for grizzly bears for the Helena-Lewis & Clark, Lolo, and Kootenai National Forests. Written and electronic comments will be accepted for 120 days.

Today’s publication of a Notice of Availability of the draft documents in the Federal Register begins the public comment period on both the draft forest plan, amendments and DEIS. A total of two open houses are scheduled in Kalispell and Missoula during the 120-day comment period. These open houses are intended as an opportunity to visit with individual planning team members and review maps of management area allocations by alternatives. The location and schedule of these open houses will be publicized in local newspapers and can be found on the Flathead National Forest website at: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/flathead/fpr. The draft documents are available for review and comment online.

Comments may be submitted via email to flatheadplanrevision@fs.fed.us, via facsimile to (406) 758- 5379 or in writing to: Flathead National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Attn: Forest Plan Revision, 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, MT., 59901 The Forest Service will carefully review the comments on the draft Forest Plan, Amendments and DEIS. There will also be an objection process for any unresolved concerns prior to the final decision.

For additional information, please contact Joe Krueger, Project Manager, at (406)-758-5243, or jkrueger@fs.fed.us.


Also read: Flathead National Forest releases draft Forest Plan environmental impact statement (Hungry Horse News)

Flathead Forest posts forest plan update

Lake in Flathead National Forest

The Flathead National Forest has completed the next step in the process of arriving at a fully lawsuit-ready revised forest plan. They’ve prepared the traditional four alternatives (three really, since one of them is “do nothing”) and posted them for public comment.

Polish your glasses and find a comfy chair. it runs some 2000 pages . . .

Setting the stage for more than 2,000 pages of scientific research, new guidelines and contentious proposals, the cover of the modified management plan for the Flathead National Forest cites a symbolic quote.

“Where conflicting interests must be reconciled, the question shall always be answered from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run.”

Indeed, the well-known saying by Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, remains as relevant as the day it was written in 1905, and its merits are being put to the test as the agency unrolls the historic makeover of its sweeping management plan for the 2.4 million acre tract of federal land in Northwest Montana, where a rapidly growing population is placing increasing pressure on the wild interior.

After nearly three years of public meetings and analysis, the agency released the draft version of its revised forest plan on May 27, unveiling a proposed blueprint for everything within the Flathead National Forest, from recreational opportunities to designated wilderness, timber production, wildlife and habitat.

Read more . . .

Further reading:

Flathead Forest prepares for draft plan release (Missoulian)

Official forest plan website