The public comment period has closed on a proposed project on the Flathead National Forest that includes timber thinning, forest-fuels reduction and 25 miles of new trail north of Columbia Falls and west of the Flathead River.
The Hungry Horse-Glacier View Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest is proposing to conduct 3,876 acres of vegetation management and construct approximately 25 miles of trails on Flathead National Forest System lands.
The project area is approximately 27,249 acres in size and is girded to the south by the community of Columbia Falls and to the west by the Flathead River. The area includes Crystal Creek, Cedar Flats, Spoon Lake, Blankenship Road, and Teakettle Mountain and is located on the Hungry Horse-Glacier View Ranger District.
Ownership within the project area is 33 percent private (8,915 acres), 2 percent state (479 acres), and 65 percent National Forest System lands (17,795 acres).
According to the proposal, the project would involve logging 3,876 acres with a production value of around 9 million board feet.
The proposal has strong support from the mountain biking community, while some private landowners have raised concerns about the impact to their property.
Residents in the Columbia Falls area have long expressed an interest in expanding the local trail systems that link communities to adjacent public lands. The project area currently contains seven miles of motorized trails, which are receiving increasing levels of use by hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers, cross-country skiers, and other non-motorized recreationists.