BIGFORK, MT –December 15, 2016 – The Swan Lake Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest has released the Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Beaver Creek Landscape Restoration Project. The Beaver Creek Project is located approximately nine miles south of Condon and is bordered by Lindbergh Lake and the Mission Mountains Wilderness area to the west, the Swan River to the north, State Highway 83 to the east and the Lolo National Forest to the south.
Flathead National Forest specialists worked collaboratively with members of the public to develop the Beaver Creek Project, and hosted fieldtrips for stakeholders to look at proposed management and discuss alternative approaches to achieving the goals of reducing the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire, while protecting and improving fish and wildlife habitat, and improving forest conditions. “We have heard different opinions from members of the public and have worked hard to address these concerns while achieving goals to reduce the threat of wildfire to private property and improve forest health conditions.” said Swan Lake District Ranger Rich Kehr. After four years of public discussion and environmental analysis, Kehr believes that the Selected Alternative achieves restoration on a landscape that includes lands previously owned by the Plum Creek Timber Company and National Forest System lands adjacent to private property near Lindbergh Lake.
The project is also located within the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program, with involvement from the Southwest Crown of the Continent Collaborative (SWCC). SWCC Chairman, Jim Burchfield commends the project stating, “This was a great opportunity for the SWCC to engage in landscape restoration from the early stages of project development and SWCC looks forward to monitoring the outcomes.”
The Selected Alternative proposes approximately 4,530 acres of vegetation restoration activities. These include timber harvest and non-commercial activities such as prescribed burning, pre-commercial thinning, planting, and daylighting activities to improve forest health and reduce hazardous fuels in the Wildland Urban Interface. The project also includes aquatic restoration activities to protect native fish species such as genetically pure cutthroat trout populations and improve passage for other native aquatic organisms.
To conduct harvest activities, the forest will construct approximately 5.5 miles of temporary roads that will be rehabilitated following project activities. The Selected Alternative also includes 12.6 miles of road storage and 4.5 miles of road decommissioning on roads that are already closed to motorized traffic in the project area.
The Selected Alternative includes a Forest Plan Amendment to assign management area direction to approximately 5,457 acres of former Plum Creek Timber Company lands that the Forest Service acquired in the past 15 years.
The Decision Notice and Final Environmental Assessment can be found on the web at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=43968
For more information, please contact the Swan Lake Ranger District at (406) 837-7500.