Round Star Project Environmental Assessment Available for Comment
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: June 17, 2022

Kalispell, MT, June 17, 2022 — The Flathead National Forest has released the environmental assessment 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 Cross-Country Ski Area.

Approximately 87 percent of the Round Star project area is in the wildland-urban interface. The Round Star Project would 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 trees 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 2,866 acres. To implement these vegetation management activities, approximately 20.0 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.

The majority of this project area was identified as part of the priority areas for focused attention on fuels reduction in the 2020 Montana Forest Action Plan and is partially located within theConnecting Fuels Treatments in the Salish Mountains and Whitefish Range Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Project Area.

The Round Meadow Cross-Country Ski 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 additional infrastructure and trails would allow the recreation area to keep up with rising visitation. The Round Star Project would add 5.6 miles of non-motorized trail to the Round Meadow trail system on the south side of NFSR 539. An additional parking area of approximately 0.6 acres would be constructed for the southside trails. This parking area would facilitate recreational use of the southside trails and address concerns for user safety created by crossing the road to access the additional trails. The new trails would be groomed in the winter season for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing, and open for biking, hiking and equestrian use in the summer season.  The project would also add a warming shelter at the main Round Meadow Trailhead. The warming shelter would be a heated building that provides tables and benches for visitor use. Next to the warming shelter, the Forest would add a storage building.  The storge building would be used to store Forest Service owned grooming equipment on site. The Forest also plans to expand the Round Meadow parking area by 0.3 acres.  The expansion would allow ease of access for horse trailers and would provide additional parking spaces during the busy winter season.

The release of the environmental assessment starts a 30-day comment period for the public to review the document, ask questions about the activities, and provide comments on the document. Comments will be used to refine the environmental assessment.  For the complete environmental assessment, visit the project page at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=60892.

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 Kira Powell, Project Leader, Tally Lake Ranger Station, 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, MT  59901.  Please contact Kira Powell, Project Leader, if you would like more information or have questions regarding the project at (406)758-3508.