Kalispell, MT July 22, 2022 – Flathead National Forest, Swan Lake District Ranger Christopher Dowling approved the Bug Creek Integrated Resource Management Project decision. The project will reduce fuels and fire intensities in the wildland-urban interface, improve diversity and resilience of vegetative communities and associated wildlife habitat, and provide quality outdoor recreation opportunities. This project is located in the Crane Mountain area, east of Flathead Lake, south of Bigfork, and west of Swan Lake.
The approved activities include approximately 1,898 acres of commercial vegetation treatments and 2,681 acres of non-commercial treatment. To do these treatments, roughly 13 miles of new and five miles of temporary road will be constructed. All new roads will be made impassable and temporary roads will be obliterated following project activities. For approximately five years, four miles of National Forest System (NFS) Road #498 will be closed while project activities occur. A portion NFS road #9714, between Bug Creek and Crane Mountain roads, will be made seasonally open to create a drivable loop in the Crane Mountain area.
A new trail system will create or designate approximately 17 miles of non-motorized trails. The trails will be in the northern portion of the project area west of NFS Road #498. The Estes Lake Trail (Trail #96) designation will be changed to only allow non-motorized use, removing the current use of wheeled vehicles 50 inches or less in width. The Estes Lake trailhead will be improved, and two new trailheads will be constructed to access the trail system.
“This project is an excellent opportunity to reduce the threat of wildland urban interface fires, improve and develop recreation access while providing economic opportunities to local communities” said District Ranger Christopher Dowling.
Reducing forest fuels next to neighboring communities increases the chance for successful fire suppression efforts, while improving firefighter and public safety. Private landowners are encouraged
to complement these efforts by undertaking work on their own property within the Home Ignition Zone, defined as the area 0 to 100-feet out from a home. People can learn more about local resources,
including grant programs for fuels reduction at https://www.firesafeflathead.com.
More information about the project can be found on the Flathead National Forestwebpage.