Final Decision Notice Completed for the Whitefish Municipal Watershed Fuel Reduction Project
KALISPELL, MT –January 17, 2017 –The Tally Lake Ranger District has released the Final Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Whitefish Municipal Watershed Fuel Reduction (WMWFR) project.
The project was developed through a collaborative process, and is located on the Tally Lake Ranger District, northeast of the city of Whitefish. Much of the project area is surrounded by private and state owned lands in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). Sarah Lundstrum who facilitated the collaborative group says, “This is a great example of what can happen when a diverse community group comes together to work on issues collaboratively. We are looking forward to working with the Forest Service to build on this decision and finish the conservation and recreation goals identified by our community.”
Group member, Paul McKenzie agrees, “I am proud to see what started as a community vision develop into real work getting done on the landscape. The vegetation management project is a critical start to managing wildfire risks for the Whitefish Municipal Watershed. We look forward to making progress on the recreational goals established by the collaborative effort as well. This is a great example of how getting people of varied interests to sit down and work on specific landscape based issues helps move the ball forward and results in projects that benefit our families, communities and our national forests. This project simply would not have taken place without the partnerships and collaboration of the neighbors and community members who got involved.”
The WMWFR project area is within lands designated under the 2014 Farm Bill amendment to the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA) of 2003 (16 U.S.C. 6592 et. seq.). Section 602 allows this area to be designated as part of an insect and disease treatment program since this area meets the criteria of experiencing forest health decline.
Additionally, funding from Governor Bullock’s Forest in Focus Initiative contributed to accelerate the pace and outcome of the Whitefish Municipal Watershed Fuel Reduction project. Chip Weber, Flathead Forest Supervisor said, “The Montana State Department of Natural Resources and Conservation partnered with the Flathead National Forest to increase the efficiency of project planning and implementation on federal lands in Montana, which has contributed to the success of this project.”
The project will modify forest stand conditions to increase resilience to insect infestation and reduce future tree mortality. This project will also increase wildland fire resiliency and reduce hazardous fuel to protect the Whitefish Municipal Watershed. Several types of silvicultural treatments are proposed on a total of 254 acres. Approximately 859 acres within the project area will have fuel treatments by either prescribed burning of 756 acres or understory removal on 103 acres. The project will create approximately 2 miles of temporary roads that will be rehabilitated after the project is completed. A portion of road 316B on the Glacier View Ranger District would be closed to summer wheeled motorized vehicles to increase grizzly bear security. In order to address the above needs for the project, some of the Forest Plan MA 2A standards will be amended for the duration of this project. The WMWFR project is expected to be implemented the summer of 2017.