Flathead Forest Seeks Public Input on Lake Five Timber Project

Proposal in Coram-West Glacier forest district calls for logging and fuel reduction in ‘wildland-urban interface’ communities

By Tristan Scott
Lake Five in West Glacier on May 29, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The Flathead National Forest is seeking input on a new forest management project near Lake Five that calls for logging and fuel reduction in the wildland-urban interface communities extending between Coram and West Glacier.

The “Lake Five Project” would designate approximately 2,000 acres for commercial timber harvest, including commercial thinning and seed tree treatments, as well as 300 acres for noncommercial vegetation treatments. 

The whole project area analyzed is approximately 12,000 acres, of which 42% is private property, according to Lauren Alley, a spokesperson for the Flathead National Forest.

The 2011 Flathead County Community Wildfire Protection Plan identified neighborhoods within the project area as priority areas for local fire departments. All proposed activities would occur on National Forest System land.

The area is predominantly composed of lodgepole pine, stands of which grew from the Half Moon Fire in 1929. The resulting tree stands are composed of closely spaced, small-diameter lodgepole pine that are vulnerable to stand replacement fires and insect and disease, according to Alley.

Importantly, the project would reduce the risk of high-intensity wildfire in and around these communities, diversify the tree species in the area, and provide timber for the local economy.

“I encourage you to read the scoping materials, look at the maps available, and attend our virtual open house,” Hungry Horse District Ranger Rob Davies said. “The Forest Service is a neighbor to many residents in this area and we sincerely want to improve fuel conditions near homes and property, protect natural resources, and maintain recreation opportunities. We are seeking your ideas and suggestions during this scoping period to help us refine or improve this proposal.”

Some timber harvest and other fuels reduction treatments would rely on roads currently used for both summer and winter recreation. The national forest expects temporary closures in those areas depending on where project activity is occurring.       

Accessing the project areas would require that the Forest Service build approximately six miles of road that would be added to the road system, and 1.3 miles of temporary road that would be returned to a forested condition at the conclusion of the project. Many of the roads would be built on existing roadbeds. About 1.7 miles of existing road would be decommissioned. Some of these roads would be retained for future forest management use and would be made impassable at the conclusion of the Lake Five Project.  Public motorized access would not change on any roadway.

A virtual public meeting on the project is set for Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. For more information, including maps, how to comment, and instructions for joining the virtual public meeting, please visit the Flathead National Forest’s website.

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