October 15, 2020 Kalispell, MT–Flathead National Forest announced today that the Frozen Moose forest and fuels management project has moved to the next phase of its planning process with the release of the draft decision notice.
The draft decision proposes 8,077 acres of vegetation treatments to reduce forest fuels, improve forest health conditions, and provide forest products for the local economy. The whole project area evaluated is approximately 151,000 acres, of which 3,180 acres are proposed for commercial timber harvest, 4,897 acres are proposed for noncommercial vegetation treatments, and 89 percent of proposed treatments are within the wildland-urban interface.
The project would also improve aquatic habitat by replacing and removing culverts and restoring approximately three miles of old road to forest condition. It would add 13 miles of historical road back to the forest’s road system. Those roads would be made impassable after project completion. The project would also construct 6.4 miles of temporary road to be used for project activities and then restored back to forest condition. Public motorized access would not change in the area.
The project area includes the North Fork community north of Polebridge, MT, which has seen significant wildfire activity and community evacuations over the last thirty years.
The forest has received numerous formal and informal comments about the project since the project team first asked for public input in the winter of 2019/20. The public scoping period for the environmental assessment this summer received 17 comments. Other feedback was gathered during a virtual public meeting, Forest Service attendance at other community meetings, and site visits with adjacent landowners.
The commenters were supportive of the forest fuels management work, concerned about potential impacts to grizzly bears and bull trout, and wanting to see either more or less timber harvest than was proposed.
This week, the project enters an objection period, which is required by U.S. Forest Service regulation. The 45-day administrative review period allows people who have previously submitted timely, specific written comments during any designated opportunity for public comment to file an objection to the draft decision.
More information about the project can be found on the forest’s website.