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Forest proposes logging near Spotted Bear

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | November 17, 2021 7:25 AM

The Flathead National Forest last week released plans for a timber project in the area of the Spotted bear Ranger Station, with several units that are close to Trail 80, one of the main trails into the wilderness.

Almost all of the units, which run from the ranger station south to near the wilderness boundary, are outside of core grizzly bear habitat.

The project proposes approximately 757 acres of commercial timber harvest and 293 acres of noncommercial treatments including thinning and burning. Approximately 2.7 miles of roads would be constructed and added to the Forest road system, the Forest Service said.

The roads however, will not be open to public use after the sale is complete and would be made impassable.

In addition, 0.6 miles of temporary roads would be constructed and then rehabilitated after log hauling is complete.

“We are eager to hear from the public as we continue to develop this project, your input will help us refine our proposed action,” Spotted Bear District Ranger Scott Snelson said.

The project includes 538 acres of seed tree logging, where the objective is to remove more than 75% of the overstory, leaving about 5 to 10 trees per acre.

About 219 acres would be commercial thinning, where trees are thinned, but not to the degree of seed tree.

The bulk of the logging is in the Wild and Scenic River corridor of the South Fork of the Flathead River.

Some of the units would be about a mile from the boundary with the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

The plan also calls for about 28 acres of prescribed burns.

The proposed work would decrease the dominance of Douglas fir and increase the presence of aspen and fire-tolerant species such as ponderosa pine and western larch. Throughout the project area, Douglas fir trees are dying from root disease and Douglas fir beetle, the Forest Service notes.

“This project will help our large trees, particularly our large ponderosa pines, thrive into the future,” Snelson said in a release.

Another goal of the of this project is to reduce existing wildland fuels, the Forest Service said.

By reducing forest fuels, expected fire behavior is reduced.

“The proposed treatments are especially important in the northern project area which is close to guest ranches and the Spotted Bear Ranger District buildings,” Snelson said. 

People can comment on the plan until Dec. 10.

Electronic input may be submitted to: comments-northern-flathead-spotted-bear@usda.gov with “Spotted Bear Mountain Project” in the subject line. Acceptable formats include MS Word, RTF, or PDF.

Please send written input to Scott Snelson; Spotted Bear Ranger Station; PO Box 190340; Hungry Horse, MT 59919.

For questions, please contact project leader Gary Blazejewski at gary.blazejewski@usda.gov or (406) 387-3827.