Investigations are underway into illegal firewood cutting and vandalism at Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park.
Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is investigating a series of firewood thefts throughout the 3,000-acre recreation area and state park system along U.S. Highway 2 between Kalispell and Libby. FWP officials have received reports of illegal cutting at night. The popular recreation area has lost a significant number of standing and fallen trees that were illegally removed in recent months.
“We’ve lost several really important habitat trees along the shoreline. Those trees are important for eagles, osprey and other wildlife,” said Dave Landstrom, park manager for FWP’s Region 1.
The lost trees can also expose shorelines to erosion problems and diminish forested campsite areas.
FWP officers are also investigating a vandalized gate at Upper Thompson Lake Road. The gate was recently broken, creating added costs for a downsized Montana State Parks budget.
The gate, which provides vehicle access to Upper Thompson Lake, was closed this winter due to significant budget cuts to Montana State Parks. Walk-in access remains available.
Due to state budget cuts, several roads that have historically been cleared of snow will not be maintained for winter access across northwest Montana.
These roads include Boisverts on McGregor Lake and Logan State Park on Middle Thompson Lake. Additionally, some of the secondary roads that front U.S. Highway 2 West and provide camping and water access to the Lower, Middle and Upper Thompson Lakes will be closed during the winter months and early spring to prevent damage.
“We have an extremely skeletal road maintenance budget for Thompson Chain of Lakes and Logan State Park, and that was made worse by additional budget cuts in 2017. We’re trying to keep these roads from getting too beat up in the off season, because we just don’t have the resources to fix them adequately every spring,” Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park Manager Dave Bennetts said in a press release.
Cutting firewood is prohibited and illegal at any FWP-owned or managed site. To report any timber cutting, call 1-800 TIP-MONT (847-6668) or the FWP Regional Office at (406) 752-5501.