The Stillwater State Forest, managed by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), is located northwest of Whitefish, is a prime area for winter recreation. With approximately 106,500 forested acres situated along the snowbelt of the Whitefish Mountain Range, the Stillwater State Forest has noticed increased use in recent years from both commercial and general public winter recreation. Currently, the Stillwater State Forest licenses nine winter operators providing guiding and rental services for activities such as snowmobiling, Nordic skiing, cat-skiing, snowshoeing and dog sledding. The Flathead Snowmobile Association also grooms approximately 75 miles of snowmobile trails on the Stillwater State Forest and maintains three trailheads which tie into the Flathead National Forest Service system of groomed trails.
Outdoor recreational pursuits continue to expand as more and more people visit the Flathead Valley and as advances in outdoor equipment and technology allow for more users to experience the backcountry. This in turn can lead to congestion in high use areas and friction between differing user groups. In an effort to understand these issues better, the Stillwater has started collecting user data for winter recreation. For the last two years, the Stillwater has placed trail counters at trailheads and at popular destination points.
This year, the Stillwater is soliciting input from the public via an online survey. The survey focuses on questions related to what types of winter recreation activities users enjoy and their overall experience. Answers to these questions will help inform DNRC staff on management decisions related to; public outreach and education, additional signage and availability of maps, and mitigating user conflicts and congestion. You can click here to access the survey, https://s.surveyplanet.com/bximUPvzj or visit the DNRC webpage at: dnrc.mt.gov/recreation. The link will be made available online from January 8th, 2021 through March 15th, 2021.
The purpose of Montana Trust Lands is to generate income to support Montana’s public schools, universities and public institutions. A Montana Recreational Use License ($10) is required for any recreational activities on this land. Licenses may be purchased at MT FWP licensing locations, or at: fwp.mt.gov/buyandapply. For more information, contact the Stillwater Unit office at 406-881-2371 or visit the Stillwater State Forest Headquarters at 7425 Highway 93 North in Olney, Montana.