Forest release assessment for Taylor Hellroaring Project

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The Flathead National Forest has released an updated environmental assessment for a timber management and trail project planned for northwest of Whitefish.

The Taylor Hellroaring Project, located in the Tally Lake Ranger District, includes proposed vegetation and fuels management and wildlife habitat improvement work, as well as the construction of multi-use trails and the improvement of a parking area to a designated trailhead at the Holbrook Overlook.

This project has been developed in collaboration with Whitefish Legacy Partners and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. The project includes use of the Good Neighbor Authority.

The 7,808 acre project area includes the Whitefish Face area, which is located in the Whitefish Range, from Haskill Basin to Werner Peak.

The project was initiated and analyzed, but not approved in 2018 under the former 1986 Flathead National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, so analysis has been updated to be compliant with the new 2018 Flathead National Forest Plan.

The environmental assessment has been revised, and though the proposed alternatives for the project did not change, some design features were added or changed to comply with the revised Forest Plan, according to the assessment document.

The proposed action calls for prescribed burns and timber harvesting on about 1,800 acres.

“The result of all the timber harvest activities would be a more diverse forest structure, a more insect and disease resilient, sustainable forest and a reduction in hazardous fuels within the treated stands,” the environmental assessment document says.

Treatments in the Wildland Urban Interface are “designed to reduce the risk to essential infrastructure,” the document states.

The project also calls for a proposed trail system that would create non-motorized trails in the area that would create a connection to trails in and around Whitefish. It is also expected to connect existing trails that are not currently easily accessible such as the Ralph Thayer Memorial Recreation Trail and Smokey Range National Recreation Trail.

“This would create opportunities for trail users to disperse from the current system onto more remote and challenging trails with great opportunities for solitude,” the document says.

There were two options studied for proposed trail construction.

Under what’s termed alternative two or the proposed alternative, about 40 miles of trail would be constructed and about 15 miles of trails would be collocated on existing open roads.

Under the third alternative, about 26 miles of trail would be constructed and the same amount of trail would be on existing roads.

The third alternative was developed to address comments received, including from neighbors of the trails, and concerns with trail impacts related to wildlife and human interactions and wildlife habitat.

While trials would remain in the Holbrook area, the routes of those trail segments would be shifted based upon concerns, in addition the third alternative eliminates a trail segment that had been planned to connect trails to Ptarmigan Village based upon homeowners concerns.

Other trail segments were eliminated completely in the third alternative due to wildlife conflict concerns and density to existing trails.

The Holbrook Overlook parking area is also planned to be upgraded to a designated trailhead including a vault toilet and an information kiosk.

Public comment is being taken on the environmental assessment for 30 days following the publication of the legal notice on April 23.

Comments can be submitted by email through, comments-northern-flathead-tally-lake@fs.fed.us.

Comments can also be submitted by mail to the Tally Lake Ranger Station, Attn: Taylor Hellroaring Project, 650 Wolf Pack Way, Kalispell, MT 59901.

The environmental assessment is available online at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=50518. Information is also available at the Tally Lake Ranger Station in Kalispell.

For more information regarding the project, contact Tami MacKenzie, Project Team Leader, at 406-758-3508 or at tamara.mackenzie@usda.gov.

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