Comment now on Round Star Project
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: December 10, 2021

Kalispell, MT, December 8, 2021 — The Flathead National Forest has released the proposed action for the Round Star Project. The project area is located on the northwest side of the Flathead Valley, on the Tally Lake Ranger District. The project would reduce tree densities and fuel loadings within the wildland-urban interface, diversify plant and tree communities, provide a mix of forest products for local economies, and expand recreation opportunities in the Round Meadow Area.

Approximately 84 percent of the Round Star project area is in the wildland-urban interface. The Round Star Project proposes to lower tree densities and reduce surface fuels to reduce the likelihood of stand replacing fire within the wildland-urban interface.  The treatments would also increase the presence of large size classes of tree species over time, which could also help maintain low levels of insect and disease activity in the project area. To achieve these objectives, the project proposes commercial timber harvest on up to 6,660 acres and noncommercial vegetation treatments on up to 2,859 acres. To implement the proposed vegetation management activities, approximately 20.8 miles of system roads would be placed on the Forest road system. These system roads would be closed year-round to public motorized access following implementation. Additional actions would include 3.4 miles of temporary road construction which would be rehabilitated after use, and 1.5 miles of road changed from open year-round to open seasonally.

The Round Meadow Recreation Area is located on the northeast side of the Round Star Project.  This area provides groomed Nordic skiing and snowshoeing during the winter season and hiking, biking, and equestrian use during the summer.  Round Meadow has seen an increase in use in recent years, and the Forest Service is proposing adding additional infrastructure and trails to keep up with rising visitation. The Round Star Project proposes to add 4.2 miles of non-motorized trail to the Round Meadow trail system. These trails would be groomed in the winter season for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing.  The project also proposes to add a warming shelter at the Round Meadow trailhead. The warming shelter would be a heated building where visitors could put on their boots or enjoy a picnic lunch. Next to the warming shelter, it is proposed to add a storage building.  The storge building would be used to store Forest Service owned grooming equipment on site. It is also proposed to expand the Round Meadow parking area.  The expansion would allow ease of access for horse trailers and would provide additional parking spaces during the busy winter season.

Oral comments can be provided at the Tally Lake Ranger Station during normal business hours, via telephone, or in person. Normal business hours are 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Input received in response to this solicitation, including names, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers of those who comment, will be considered part of the public record, and will be available for public inspection. Electronic input may be submitted to: comments-northern-flathead-tally-lake@usda.gov with “Round Star Project” in the subject line. Acceptable formats include MS Word, RTF, or PDF. Please send written input to Ellen Mering, Project Leader, Tally Lake Ranger Station, 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, MT  59901.  Please contact Ellen Mering, Project Leader, if you would like more information regarding the project at (406)758-3508.

The release of the proposed action starts a 30-day comment period for the public to review the document, ask questions about the proposed activities, and provide comments on the proposal. Comments will be accepted through January 7, 2022 and will be used to refine our proposed activities and conduct our environmental analysis for the project.  For a complete description of proposed actions and maps, visit the project page at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=60892.