Tag Archives: Kootenai National Forest

Gibraltar Ridge Fire closure order affects Trail Creek, PNT

Gibraltar Ridge Fire C.losure Map, Aug 8, 2017
Gibraltar Ridge Fire Closure Map, Aug 8, 2017

A closure order was issued this afternoon in the Kootenai National Forest as a result of the Gibraltar Ridge Fire in the Eureka area.

This closure affects travel from the North Fork over Trail Creek into the Kootenai. The Forest Service is posting signs at the North Fork Road/Trail Creek Road junction, and at the Tuchuck Trailhead.

This also affects the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT). Notifications are going up at strategic trailheads for the PNT in both the Kootenai and Flathead Forests.

For more information on the Gibraltar Ridge Fire, see the Inciweb page at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5474/

Ten Lakes travel management plan open for comments

Big Therriault Lake - Kootenai National Forest
Big Therriault Lake – Kootenai National Forest

If you wish to comment on the Ten Lakes travel management plan, You’ve got until May 13 . . .

The Kootenai National Forest is accepting public comments on its proposed Ten Lakes Travel Management Project, which would guide motorized recreation rules in and around the Ten Lakes Wilderness Study Area.

Comments are due May 13, with a draft environmental impact statement for the plan expected later that month. The forest hopes to release a final environmental impact statement in August.

The project area consists of the Ten Lakes Wilderness Study Area and some of the common entrance points surrounding it. The plan addresses motorized use, which includes snowmobiles, dirt bikes and four-wheelers, as well as mechanized uses such as mountain bikes.

Read more . . .

Forest Service extends comment period for Rock Creek Mine

The public now has extra time to make their views known about the proposed Rock Creek Mine . . .

The U.S. Forest Service has extended the comment period for the draft environmental impact statement for the Rock Creek Mine project near Noxon.

Residents will now have until April 19 to submit comments on the proposed copper and silver project. Kootenai National Forest officials said in a press release announcing the extension that they wanted to give people more time to review the draft supplemental environmental impact because it is a “complex document.”

The draft study released in February addresses concerns about sediment control and ground water at Rock Creek.

Read more . . .

Partnerships working for the Kootenai

Big Therriault Lake - Kootenai National Forest
Big Therriault Lake – Kootenai National Forest

Our neighbors in the Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Coalition have an interesting guest column in this week’s Flathead Beacon talking about their cooperative efforts to work for the benefit of the Kootenai National Forest . . .

Open the newspaper or start a conversation about the Kootenai National Forest and one topic is sure to come up: Lawsuits.

Frankly, this theme can be heard wherever there is a national forest. People often feel frustrated that lawyers and judges trump local professional land managers.

In the Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Coalition, we are waist-deep in forward-thinking efforts to restore our national forest lands, supporting our communities economically while protecting diverse recreation, wildlife and wilderness values. We share public frustration, but aren’t content to sit on our hands and complain.

Read more . . .

Conservation groups join to fight Kootenai snowmobile lawsuit

As we mentioned a week back, several area conservation organizations joined together to intervene in the lawsuit challenging the inclusion of recommended wilderness areas in the Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle National Forests . . .

A coalition of conservationists has asked to intervene in a lawsuit filed by snowmobilers challenging wilderness provisions in the Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle national forest plans.

The Ten Lakes Snowmobile Club, Citizens for Balanced Use and five other interest groups sued the U.S. Forest Service in November, accusing the agency of improperly excluding snowmobile use from the forest’s recommended wilderness areas and improperly recommending new waterways for the national Wild and Scenic River Act designation.

On Jan. 25, The Wilderness Society, Headwaters Montana, Idaho Conservation League, Montana Wilderness Association, Panhandle Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club and Winter Wildlands Alliance formally asked to intervene in the case.

Read more . . .

Conservationists seek to defend recommended wilderness against snowmobiler lawsuit

NEWS RELEASE: January 25, 2016

CONTACT: Tim Preso, Earthjustice, (406) 586-9699, tpreso@earthjustice.org

Missoula, MT – A coalition of conservationists, represented by Earthjustice, today requested to intervene in a lawsuit filed by snowmobilers that seeks to overturn restrictions on motorized use in recommended wilderness areas on the Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

At issue are the Forest Service’s 2015 revised forest management plans for the two forests, which recommended certain rugged and pristine areas for wilderness designation and prohibited motorized use within their boundaries to protect wilderness character and preserve the opportunity for permanent protection under the federal Wilderness Act. Snowmobile interest groups filed a lawsuit in November 2015 that asks a federal judge to overturn these recommended wilderness designations and open the protected areas to motorized use by snowmobiles and four-wheelers.

“Snowmobilers already have access to 86 percent of the Kootenai forest and 70 percent of the Idaho Panhandle forest,” said Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso, who is representing the conservationists. “We are standing up to defend the peace and solitude of the last pockets of wilderness-quality lands in these otherwise heavily logged and motorized forests.”

The recommended wilderness areas at issue include landscapes prized for their outstanding backcountry recreation opportunities, including Scotchman Peaks and Roderick Mountain in Montana and the Mallard Larkins and Selkirk Range in Idaho. These areas are home to mountain goats, grizzly bears, Canada lynx, wolverines, and a wide variety of other species, including the last remnant population of woodland caribou in the continental United States. In total, they constitute just 4 percent of the 2.2-million-acre Kootenai National Forest and 7 percent of the 2.5-million-acre Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

Earthjustice is representing The Wilderness Society, Headwaters Montana, Idaho Conservation League, Montana Wilderness Association, Panhandle Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club and Winter Wildlands Alliance. The groups seek to defend the Forest Service’s designation of recommended wilderness areas and wild and scenic river eligible areas and its decision to restrict motorized access in these areas.

Earthjustice, the nation’s premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. Because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Ten Lakes debate could impact future wilderness proposals

Big Therriault Lake - Kootenai National Forest

Over at the Missoulian, Rob Chaney has put together an excellent article, including maps and supporting documentation, on the issues and conflicting interests surrounding the Ten Lakes Wilderness Study Area.

Recommended reading . . .

If it’s true that you’re doing something right when everyone’s angry with you, the Kootenai National Forest has nailed its wilderness designation process.

More likely, it may become the decision point for how the U.S. Forest Service respects the recreation wishes of snowmobilers, cross-country skiers and land managers across the Northwest. The lens for that debate is the Ten Lakes Wilderness Study Area.

“There was a huge effort in the forest planning process, where the Montana Wilderness Association, The Wilderness Society and others wanted to sit down with folks in Eureka to find common ground around Ten Lakes,” Kootenai Forest Supervisor Chris Savage recalled. “They met for a couple of years to come to some resolution. But it became apparent from other parties that they just don’t see it should be a wilderness study area, and that it shouldn’t be managed as wilderness at all. They had to stop the process.

Read more . . .

Kootenai Forest stakeholder group reaches accord

Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby

This is a decent summary of the status of the Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Coalition, including a discussion of a couple of rather contentious lawsuits stirring the pot over there . . .

A collaborative group representing stakeholders in and around the Kootenai National Forest announced an agreement last week that will guide its input on proposed land management projects.

The Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Coalition includes representatives from environmental, industry and recreation groups that often are at odds on forest policy. Robyn King, executive director of the Yaak Valley Forest Council, said the group was formed in 2006 to come up with a set of shared objectives to minimize litigation blamed for slowing down projects in the national forest.

“This is the guiding document that we would use, as a group, to make our comments to the U.S. Forest Service,” King said. “This is an organic document, so as we get out on the ground and see different applications being proposed by the U.S. Forest Service, we may make changes over time.”

Read more . . .

Fire restrictions lifted in almost all areas of Northwest Montana

Pretty much all fire restrictions (Stage I and Stage II) have been rescinded in this corner of Montana except for Flathead County proper. Chances are, the Flathead County Commissioners will get around to lifting restrictions for the county on Thursday.

There is no open burning, however. That will have to wait until October, if not later.

See also: Most fire restrictions removed (Daily Inter Lake – paywall)