Blankenship Southwest to remain open to camping this summer
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: May 10, 2021

Kalispell, MT May 10, 2021— Dispersed camping will continue to be allowed this summer on National Forest System lands southwest of Blankenship Bridge and the Flathead National Forest would like to remind you to recreate responsibly while dispersed camping across the Forest this summer.

The boat ramp and parking areas managed by Flathead County remain day use and help provide a wider spectrum of use within the local Blankenship area.

Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger District staff observed large numbers of campers at Blankenship southwest last year and listened to concerns from the public about this use. The Forest did not observe levels of permanent or irreversible resource damage associated with camping that would warrant emergency actions such as changing access or closing it to camping at this time. Additionally, contacts made at the site throughout last season generally reflected a positive experience from users. This summer, we will provide portable toilets, maintain signs to educate users of regulations, and patrol the area for resource damage and compliance.

“Last year the Flathead National Forest was privileged to provide the public a great place for outdoor recreation and we are excited to provide that diversity of opportunity again this year. As a public agency, our job is to provide for a diverse range of recreational opportunity for the American people that want to enjoy their outdoors, including those underrepresented, nature-deprived communities. While I understand the increased use we are seeing across the Forest is a difficult change for some people, I believe any chance we can connect the American people to the outdoors on their public lands is positive. Our recreational staff are working hard to find ways to provide and encourage safe opportunities for recreational users in as a sustainable way as possible,” said Flathead National Forest Supervisor, Kurt Steele.  “We are fortunate here on the Flathead National Forest that we have areas like the Bob Marshal Wilderness complex that can provide people solitude if they are seeking it, to areas in our front country like Blankenship where we should expect to see more concentrated public use. I ask that people respect all the legal uses that provide users from all walks of life the unique, diverse recreational experiences they deserve.”

Long term management of the Blankenship site and all segments of the Three Forks of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River are currently under review in the Flathead Comprehensive River Management Plan. If you would like to become involved in the planning effort you can find information and updates on the project webpage.

We ask that you follow these recreate responsibly guidelines if you head out to enjoy Blankenship or anywhere else on Flathead National Forest this summer:

Plan ahead – Expect to see a lot of fellow campers on public lands across northwest Montana. Dispersed camping areas like Blankenship filled up quickly last year, so have a backup plan on where to stay if where you plan to go is full. The Forest’s Motor Vehicle Use Maps are essential tools for knowing where you can and cannot take your motor vehicle on National Forest System lands. These maps are available for free online or at any Flathead National Forest ranger station.

Know before you go – Different areas can have different regulations. It is up to you to inform yourself of the rules and there a lot of ways to be in the know: explore the Flathead National Forest website, call or stop by a ranger station, or stop and read the bulletin boards on your way in. Educate yourself on recreating safely in bear county. Proper bear food storage is required, to learn more click here.

Blankenship southwest has a three day stay limit so if you are planning on staying longer, look for other arrangements for the remainder of your stay. The Forest will install portable toilets once water levels come down after spring runoff but be prepared to be self-contained before July 1.

Leave no trace – There is no garbage service at Blankenship or any dispersed camping areas on the Forest. Campers are required to pack in and pack out all trash and other items. Campfires are allowed and the Forest encourages campers to use firepans or fire blankets. Please remember to make sure that all campfires are dead out when not attended.

Build an inclusive outdoors – Please be kind to others and help provide a safe and enjoyable environment for all users.

As we head into another busy season on the Flathead National Forest, we ask that everyone remember to recreate responsibly and enjoy your public lands respectfully.