Spotted Bear Project seeks second round of public comment
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: May 2, 2022

KalispellMT – April 28, 2022 – Today the Flathead National Forest Spotted Bear Ranger District announced the next step in the Spotted Bear Mountain Project with the release of an environmental assessment for a 30-day comment period. The 3,776-acre project area is located on National Forest System lands approximately 40 miles southeast of the town of Hungry Horse, MT, within the South Fork of the Flathead River watershed.

The project addresses wildland-urban interface fuel loading, diversifies plant and tree communities, and provides a mix of forest products for local economies.

The Spotted Bear District proposes commercial timber harvest on 747 acres, and noncommercial vegetation treatments including thinning and burning on 293 acres. Some roads (0.6 miles) would be temporary and rehabilitated following timber harvest activities. Approximately 3.4 miles of National Forest System roads would be constructed, managed in intermittent stored service condition, and made impassable to wheeled motorized vehicles. Public motorized access would not change.

“We first approached the public with this project in the fall of 2021. We received comments both in favor and against the project. We are anxious for feedback now that a draft environmental assessment has been prepared,” said Spotted Bear District Ranger Scott Snelson.

“One goal is to shift the forest back to a historical stand structure. We want to decrease stand density, improve forest health, and increase the presence of fire-tolerant species such as ponderosa pine so that our forests are more likely to survive future wildfires and pest outbreaks,” said Snelson.

Lack of wildfire in the Spotted Bear Mountain project area has resulted in dense forest conditions and a shift in species composition from ponderosa pine to Douglas-fir. The crowded Douglas-fir dominated forest is more susceptible to insects and disease. Douglas-fir beetle and root disease are active in the project area.

Other goals of the project include reducing fire behavior within the project area to facilitate safe wildland fire operations and to provide timber to contribute to the local economy.

The public can find a map, project information, and instructions for how to provide comment on the project’s website. Comments will be accepted for 30 days following posting of the legal notice in the Daily Inter Lake.

For questions, please contact project leader Gary Blazejewski at gary.blazejewski@usda.gov or (406) 387-3827.