Flathead Forest taking comments on winter recreation permits

| October 28, 2020 1:00 AM

The Flathead National Forest is accepting public comment on winter 2020-21 recreation events and temporary outfitting and guiding activities across the forest.

The activities would take place between Dec. 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021. The public should submit comments by Nov. 6 to comments-northern-flathead@usda.gov.

The events and activities include things such as cross-country ski events, avalanche training, snowmobile and snow bike tours, and guided skiing, among others.

Action Rentals is proposing to provide day-use snowmobile tours in the Tally Lake Ranger District and snowmobile and other over-snow trips on the Swan Lake Ranger District.

Glacier Adventure Guides is proposing to provide day-use cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter outdoor education classes at various locations on the forest.

The Glacier Nordic Club is proposing to host a one-time grooming and cross country day use ski event in the Cedar Flats area north of Columbia Falls in January.

Northwest Montana Adventures is looking to hold guided day-use snowmobile trips in the Taylor Creek and Werner Peak areas.

SnowBike Nation is proposing guided snow bike tours on the Tally Lake and Swan Lake ranger districts.

The Patrol Fund is proposing to host avalanche courses in the side country terrain of Whitefish Mountain Resort.

The Whitefish Shuttle is looking to provide shuttle service and guided cross country or snow shoeing trips in the Round Meadow Trails area.

Whitefish Vertical Adventures is requesting to provide day-use backcountry ski guiding adjacent to Whitefish Mountain Resort.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have four seasons of outstanding outdoor offerings,” said Flathead National Forest Supervisor Kurt Steele. “Whether you head out with your friends and family or take advantage of a more structured opportunity offered by a guide or planned event, there is something here for everyone.”  

The Forest Service authorizes these types of activities to expand recreation access to the public and provide tourism jobs for the local economy.

The Forest Service issues permits for these activities based on a “user day” which means that one person on a guided trip would be counted as one user day. Ten people on a one-day trip would be counted as 10 user days for example.

Based upon preliminary analysis, the Flathead National Forest anticipates these projects fall within the Forest Service category of actions under 36 CFR 220.8 that may be excluded in either an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement and that no extraordinary circumstances exist which would preclude use of this category.

Scoping comments along with additional review will determine whether these projects can be categorically excluded. These projects are specifically consistent with category 36 CFR 220.6(d)(8): Approval, modification, or continuation of minor, short-term (1 year or less) special uses of National Forest System lands.

Additional information and maps for all the projects can be found on the Flathead National Forest website at https://tinyurl.com/yyzcg6ns

The Forest will update the website with additional information about the status of each permit as it is reviewed by specialists and any permits are issued.