Kalispell, MT – July 12, 2022 – Hungry Horse, MT — The Flathead National Forest announced today that the Spotted Bear Mountain Project has moved to the next phase of its planning process with the release of the draft decision notice.
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. One goal of the project is to increase the presence of fire-tolerant species such as ponderosa pine, which dominated this landscape historically. Other goals include improving forest health, reducing fire behavior to facilitate safe firefighter operations, and contributing forest products to the local community.
The draft decision proposes 1,040 acres of vegetation treatments to improve forest diversity and resilience, reduce fuels, and provide timber for the local economy. The entire project area evaluated is approximately 3,800 acres and is located just south of the Spotted Bear Ranger Station. A total of 747 acres are proposed for commercial timber harvest and 293 acres are proposed for noncommercial vegetation treatments.
The Forest has received numerous comments regarding the project since the Spotted Bear Ranger District first asked for public input in the fall of 2021. Some commenters support the fuels reduction, and the timber harvest benefits for the local economy. Other commenters expressed concern for fish and wildlife species, particularly bull trout, grizzly bear, lynx, and wolverine. The project team considered all comments and agreed upon an alternative that meets project objectives and maintains wildlife habitat security while minimizing impacts to other resources.
“The comments we received indicate how deeply our commenters care for the Forest, the opportunities these public lands present, and for the fish and wildlife that live here,” said Spotted Bear District Ranger Scott Snelson.
This week, the project enters an objection period. Objections must be submitted within 45 calendar days following the publication of the legal notice in the Daily Inter Lake. The objection period allows people who have previously submitted timely, specific written comments during any designated opportunity for public comment to file an objection to the draft decision.
More information about the project can be found on the Forest’s website.
For questions, please contact project leader Gary Blazejewski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 387-3827.