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Pine Creek Lake. Photo by Walker Stole
Jul 21 2016

Shape the Future of the Flathead

Speak up for the Swan Range, Whitefish Range, Missions, and other special places in the Flathead Forest

Announcements, Featured

The US Forest Service recently released its draft management plan alternatives for the Flathead National Forest. These alternatives are essentially options for how the Forest Service will manage the Flathead Forest for the next 20 years. We have until October 3 to submit our comments and share what is important to us. The outcome of this forest plan will set the stage for future wilderness opportunities.

If you care about wild country in the Whitefish Range, the Swan Mountains, the Missions Mountains, and other places in the Flathead Forest, we encourage you to participate in the planning process. The Forest Service wants to hear more from us before making its final decision on the plan.

MWA is advocating for a blend of the alternatives, which would result in:

  1. A recommendation from the Forest Service to expand the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area northward along the Swan Range to protect Bunker and upper Sullivan Creeks. This area provides critical habitat for grizzlies, elk, and mountain goats. This is our opportunity to secure an area that citizens have advocated to be included in The Bob since the 1950s. (Remember, only Congress can designate Wilderness Areas, but a recommendation from the Forest Service is a critical first step.)
  2. Implementation of the Whitefish Range Partnership agreement. This collaborative solution for management of the Whitefish Range would result in the Forest Service recommending Wilderness for 83,000-acres in the Tuchuck, Thompson-Seton, and Mt. Hefty roadless areas, which are located in the northern section of the Whitefish Range near the Canadian border and adjacent to Glacier National Park. 
  3. Protection of the Greater Jewel Basin area. We would like the Forest Service to recommended Wilderness for the Greater Jewel Basin, and would like to see the Swan Range managed to support existing quiet, non-motorized uses.
  4. Protection of the lower elevation, species-rich lands that are adjacent to the Mission Mountains Wilderness. We would like the Sunset Ridge wildlife corridor and the bull trout spawning beds of Elk, Hemlock, Piper, and Fatty Creeks to be recommended for Wilderness designation.
  5. A prohibition of snowmobiling and mountain biking in recommended Wilderness. We believe that recommended Wilderness should be managed just like designated Wilderness. When motorized and mechanized uses become established, the potential for Wilderness designation erodes over time. 

We hope you’ll join us in making these same recommendations to the Forest Service. The best way to do that is by sending the Forest Service comments that include personal, unique stories of your experiences in the Flathead Forest. Watch this video about the Flathead Forest to get the creative juices flowing.

Please submit your comments by October 3, 2016 by using this web page or by snail-mailing them to:

Flathead National Forest Supervisor’s Office
Attn: Forest Plan Revision
650 Wolfpack Way
Kalispell, MT 59901

You can also get involved in the forest planning process by joining us at one of these events:

August 13: A hike up to Moose Peak, a rarely explored area in the Whitefish Range
August 20: A hike in the Swan Range along the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness
September 18: A hike up Tuchuck Mountain, on the wild north end of the Whitefish Range

Questions? Call me at (406) 284-1747 or email me at arobinson@wildmontana.org.

- Amy Robinson, MWA northwest Montana field director