Kalispell, MT — Today Flathead National Forest Glacier View District announced the beginning of a new project in the North Fork.
The project, called Frozen Moose, would address wildland-urban interface fuel loading, diversifies plant and tree communities, provides a mix of forest products for local economies, and improves aquatic ecosystems.
The project proposes commercial timber harvest on 3,552 acres, and noncommercial vegetation treatments including thinning and burning on 4,630 acres. Some roads would be temporarily constructed or reconstructed to provide access to project areas, though public motorized access would not change. Some treatments in the wildland-urban interface would require activity in inventoried roadless area and the Wild and Scenic Flathead River Corridor.
The records show a history of fire starts west of residential development along the North Fork Road that burn to the east. In the past, those fires have threatened and destroyed residences and infrastructure. Fuel reduction proposed in this project would make the area more resilient to wildfire and provide for firefighter access and safety as wildfires do occur.
“We look forward to working with and hearing from local residents in the North Fork area, as well as the broader public as we continue to develop this project,” said Hungry Horse Glacier View District Ranger Rob Davies.
As part of the timber harvest and fuel reduction work, a series of culverts would be upgraded or removed to improve aquatic ecosystems. Culverts must be properly sized and maintained to allow upstream fish passage, and to prevent floods from washing out roads and causing road sediment to wash into streams. In this project area, Red Meadow, Whale, and Trail Creeks are designated as Critical Habitat for bull trout, which is a Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act.
In higher elevation areas within recommended wilderness, the Forest proposes burning and other whitebark pine restoration activities. Whitebark pine is a declining species. It is fire adapted, meaning it benefits from area burning to remove competitor tree species, and because bird species like Clark’s nutcracker that typically disperse its seeds prefer more open areas.
The public can find maps, other project information, and instructions for how to provide comment on Flathead National Forest’s website.