Dry Riverside Project Seeks Public Comment
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: November 24, 2022

Kalispell, MT November 22, 2022 – Today, the Flathead National Forest announces the beginning of the Dry Riverside Project. This project is located along the east side of the Hungry Horse Reservoir from just north of Riverside boat launch to just south of Peters Creek Campground. The project is on the Hungry Horse and Spotted Bear Ranger Districts. The objectives of the project include contributing to the local economy and improving the diversity and resilience of forest stands.

The project proposes approximately 4,600 acres of commercial timber harvest and 4,000 acres of noncommercial treatments, including thinning, prescribed burning, and whitebark pine restoration. The project also proposes to add approximately 33 miles of road to the National Forest System. Of these 33 miles, approximately 32 miles would be utilizing existing templates, and one mile would be new construction. Public motorized access would not change.

The Districts want to manage the forest to be resilient following disturbances such as insects, disease, and fire. To achieve this, the desire is for the forest to have a diversity of tree species and tree sizes. For this project, the proposed work would favor retention of fire-tolerant species such as western white pine, western larch, ponderosa pine, and douglas-fir.

The proposal includes over 700 acres of whitebark pine planting and 1,400 acres of burning specifically proposed for whitebark pine restoration. Whitebark pine is an ecologically important species in high-altitude areas of the West due to the habitat and food source it provides for Clark’s nutcrackers, grizzly bears, and other animals. Whitebark pine is a declining species. It is fire adapted, meaning it benefits from burning to remove competing tree species.

“We are excited to work across boundaries of the Hungry Horse and Spotted Bear Districts and improve stand diversity and resilience,” said Spotted Bear District Ranger Scott Snelson. Hungry Horse District Ranger Rob Davies agreed and added “We anticipate economic benefits from the proposed timber harvest, but we are also excited about opportunities in this area to pursue noncommercial treatments including, thinning, prescribed burning, and whitebark pine restoration. Almost 50% of the treatments are noncommercial and important to pursue on a landscape that has seen decades of fire suppression.”

Comments will be accepted through December 23, 2022, and will be used to refine the proposed activities and conduct the environmental analysis for the project.

The public can find maps, other project information, and instructions for how to provide comment on the project website. For questions, please contact project leader Gary Blazejewski at gary.blazejewski@usda.gov or (406) 387-3827.