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Spotted Bear Mountain logging gets a green light

| January 5, 2023 7:55 AM

Flathead National Forest, Spotted Bear Ranger District signed the final decision notice for the Spotted Bear Mountain Project recently. This project is located just south of the Spotted Bear Ranger Station.

One goal of the project is to improve the diversity and resilience of forest vegetation, which largely includes increasing the presence of ponderosa pine on the landscape. Other goals include improving forest health, reducing the negative impacts of wildfire and contributing forest products to the local community.

The signed decision approves approximately 700 acres of commercial timber harvest and 300 acres of other vegetative treatments.

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.

“The existing dense forest conditions support the possibility of a fast moving, intense crown fire impacting structures and safe wildland fire operations. Based on modeled conditions of the proposed action treatments, 60 percent of the acres will shift from unfavorable fire behavior characteristics to manageable characteristics,” the final notice claims.

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

The project includes about 500 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.

The final plan trims about 35 acres from the original seed tree logging plan.

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, but no harvest is planned in old-growth forest.

“Our team has put in a lot of time and hard work to get us to this point. I am anxious to see the groundwork get started. The planned treatments will help the forest remain healthy despite the harsh conditions brought on by a changing climate,” said Spotted Bear District Ranger Scott Snelson.

Timber harvest and fuels management work could start in the late summer or early fall of 2023. More information about the project can be found on Flathead National Forest’s website or by contacting Project Leader, Gary Blazejewski at gary.blazejewski@usda.gov or (406) 387-3827.

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