Officers investigate illegal firewood cutting and vandalism at Thompson Chain of Lakes
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: December 18, 2017

– Investigations are underway into illegal firewood cutting and vandalism at Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks is investigating a series of firewood thefts throughout the 3,000-acre recreation area and state park system along U.S. Highway 2 between Kalispell and Libby. FWP officials have received reports of illegal cutting at night. The popular recreation area has lost a significant number of standing and fallen trees that were illegally removed in recent months.

“We’ve lost several really important habitat trees along the shoreline. Those trees are important for eagles, osprey and other wildlife,” said Dave Landstrom, park manager for FWP’s Region 1.

The lost trees can also expose shorelines to erosion problems and diminish forested campsite areas.

Cutting firewood is prohibited and illegal at any FWP owned or managed site. To report any timber cutting, please call 1-800 TIP-MONT (847-6668) or the FWP Regional Office at (406) 752-5501.

Click here for more information about Thompson Chain of Lakes and to view a map.

FWP officers are also investigating a vandalized gate at Upper Thompson Lake Road. The gate was recently broken, creating added costs for a downsized Montana State Parks budget.

The gate, which provides vehicle access to Upper Thompson Lake, was closed this winter due to significant budget cuts to Montana State Parks. Walk-in access remains available.

Due to state budget cuts, several roads that have historically been cleared of snow will not be maintained for winter access across northwest Montana. These roads include Boisverts on McGregor Lake and Logan State Park on Middle Thompson Lake. Additionally, some of the secondary roads that front Highway 2 West and provide camping and water access to the Lower, Middle and Upper Thompson Lakes will be closed during the winter months and early spring to prevent damage.

“We have an extremely skeletal road maintenance budget for Thompson Chain of Lakes and Logan State Park, and that was made worse by additional budget cuts in 2017. We’re trying to keep these roads from getting too beat up in the off season, because we just don’t have the resources to fix them adequately every spring,” said Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park Manager Dave Bennetts. “We looked at which lakes had multiple access points for winter recreation, and tried to keep at least one access point open at each location.”

Winter road maintenance is also being discontinued at West Shore, Big Arm, Whitefish and Les Mason state parks. Walk-in access will not be impacted at any of the parks.

Lone Pine State Park in Kalispell will see reduced winter road maintenance with the Valley View Drive parking lot being closed for the winter. Plowing will be discontinued at the Foys Lake portion of Lone Pine but the Flathead County Parks and Recreation access site at Foys Lake will remain open. The Lone Pine Visitor Center parking lot will remain open for winter recreation.

For more information on winter recreation at Montana State Parks, please contact Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks at (406) 752-5501. For more information about Montana State Parks, please visit http://stateparks.mt.gov.