Forest Plan Revision Collaboration, Communication and Conversations

The forest plan, amendments, and final environmental impact statement are available at the following links for your review:

The documents can also be reviewed at the following offices: Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest Supervisor's Office, 2880 Skyway Drive, Helena, MT  59602; Kootenai National Forest Supervisor's Office, 31374 U.S. Highway 2, Libby, MT  59923; and Lolo National Forest Supervisor's Office, 24 Fort Missoula Road, Missoula MT  59804.

Engagement of State and Local Governments, Indian Tribes, other Federal Agencies and the public at large

Local tribes and communities depend on the economic, social, and ecological benefits provided by the Forest. The Forest supports jobs and economies, local traditional ways of life, healthy wildlife populations, and clean air and water, among other benefits. Many of the issues and concerns facing the Forest, such as wildfire, require a cohesive management approach across the landscape. It is therefore essential that the representatives of local tribes, counties, as well as other Federal agencies are actively involved in the plan revision.

The Forest began public participation when developing the assessment of the Flathead National Forest. Beginning with a news release July 19, 2013, as part of the public involvement process, the Forest led field trips and held open houses to discuss existing information and trends related to a variety of conditions found on the Forest. From October 2013 through June 2014, the Forest hosted monthly public meetings with the intent to collaboratively develop plan components that the Forest could consider in the development of a proposed action (see the Meridian website, http://www.merid.org/FNFplanrevision.aspx). The dialogue and recommendations from this public involvement process were used to help develop the forest plan revision proposed action.

The notice of intent on the proposed action was published in the Federal Register on March 6, 2015. The notice of intent asked for public comment on the proposal for a 60-day period (until May 5, 2015). The comment period was subsequently extended by 10 days (until May 15, 2015). In addition, as part of the public involvement process, the agency held seven open houses to provide opportunities to better understand the proposed action so that meaningful public comments could be provided by the end of the scoping period. Using the comments from the public, State and local governments, other Federal agencies, and tribes, the interdisciplinary team developed a list of issues to address. The list was then organized by issue applicability, i.e., whether the issue was specific to the revision effort or specific to the amendment effort or applied to both. Issues that involve the amendment effort are discussed further in section 5.4 of the final EIS, Issues Used for Alternative Development.

The comment period ended on October 3, 2016, for the draft EIS, draft revised forest plan, and draft forest plan amendments. The 120-day comment period resulted in over 33,000 comments, including 568 unique letters and 33,112 form letters (these are letters identified as having overlapping content and comments) from 18 organizations. The comments were aggregated into unique concern statements, and responses were developed and are included as appendix 8 to the final EIS. The public comments and the interdisciplinary team's responses were critical to improving the analysis in the final EIS, refining plan direction, and aiding in developing the draft record of decision.

Another key component of the involvement and transparency of the public involvement efforts associated with this planning effort has been the information made available to the public through the use of the forest plan revision website (www.fs.udsa/gov/goto/flathead/fpr). The Forest also utilized collaborative mapping tools, an online forum for gathering public comments and input on specific areas of the Forest, throughout the planning process and specifically for input on the wilderness inventory and evaluation process. The availability to provide equal opportunities to anyone who wanted to participate in the planning process was greatly enhanced through our ability to provide web-based information for the public to comment on the process as well as plan components. The forest plan revision website provides links to documents and the record of all the previous public involvement efforts.

 

Comment period for the DEIS ended October 3, 2016

The 120-day comment period ended on October 3, 2016. Comments will help us to identify the range of issues to be addressed and the significant concerns related to the draft plan, draft amendments, and draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). Comments will assist the interdisciplinary team in developing a preferred alternative and in the analysis and documentation of the environmental and social effects of the proposed plan components and alternatives, in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) procedures.

Comments can be viewed in the reading room: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//ReadingRoom?Project=46286

The comment period commenced with the publication in the Federal Register (June 3, 2016) of the Notice of Availability. Only those individuals and entities who have submitted substantive formal comments related to the Flathead National Forest plan revision and the four amendments during the opportunities provided for public comment will be eligible to file an objection (36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 219.53(a)). The decision to approve the revised forest plan for the Flathead National Forest and the amendment for the Helena, Lewis and Clark, Kootenai, and Lolo National Forests will be subject to the objection process identified in 36 CFR Part 219 Subpart B (219.50 to 219.62). Comments must be received or postmarked within 120 days of the publication of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; however, anonymous comments will not provide the respondent with standing to participate in subsequent administrative or judicial reviews.

Open house schedule CONCLUDED

The following public open house sessions were held to afford the public the opportunity to learn more about the draft revised forest plan. During the open house specialists from the planning team will be available to answer any questions you may have. There will not be a formal presentation. You can plan to stop in at any time during the open house.

  • Wednesday, August 31, 2016, 5:30 7:30, Condon Work Center, 6887 Highway 83 (mile marker 43), Seeley/Swan Valley, Condon, MT
  • Thursday, September 8, 2016, 4:30 – 7:00 p.m., Flathead National Forest Supervisors Office, 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell MT

Previous open houses were June 20th in Kalispell, and June 22nd in Missoula.

Collaborative Mapping Websites

Collaborative mapping websites are used as an information source and a forum for public comments on forest plan revision topics.

We are no longer accepting comments on the collaborative mapping websites, however you may view comments and conversations that were posted:

DEIS Collaborative Mapping Tool

If your comments are associated with specific areas on a map, you may want to consider using the Talking Points Collaborative Mapping website.  However, you do not need to use both tools, nor repeat your comments with both tools, to provide comments. The purpose of the mapping website is to broaden your ability to communicate and link your comments to specific areas of the Forest. The mapping tool can be used to indicate desired conditions in a specific area, to dicuss delineation of management areas, or comment on a geographic area of interest. Comments or pictures can be attached to a particular point of interest or general comments can be made.

Proposed Action Collaborative Mapping Tool

The mapping tool can can be used to indicate desired conditions in a specific area, to discuss delineation of management areas, or comment on a geographic area of interest. Comments or pictures can be attached to a particular point of interest or general comments can be made. In additional you can review or reply to comments that are posted. The mapping tool is a forum for collaboration and a tool for viewing maps.

Access the Talking Points Collaborative mapping tool for the proposed action.

Wilderness Inventory and Evaluation

This  mapping tool provides an online forum for public comments and input on the evaluation criteria measures for wilderness evaluation, as well as to the measures specific to each area identified in the wilderness inventory. To learn more about the process and other ways to comment visit the Wilderness Inventory and Evaluation website. Comment period closed Tuesday, September 9, 2014.  

Link to the Flathead National Forest Wilderness Inventory and Evaluation E-Collaboration Map Tool.

Management Area Designations

The mapping tool was used to indicate where commenters would like to see specific management areas or define new management area designations. Comments or pictures could be attached to a particular point of interest, or general comments attached, as well as review and/or reply to comments previously posted. Click here for definitions of the management areas,  potential management area direction developed as part of the 2006 planning effort, and subsequently modified. These management areas are a starting point for the collaborative discussion.  If you would like to view comments that were submitted on a map about management areas of the Flathead National Forest use the following link: Management area designation on the Flathead National Forest E-Collaboration Map Tool

Wilderness Inventory

The interactive map of the lands identified as potentially suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System was used for comment and input. Feedback and input on the process developed and resulting inventory of lands that will be evaluated for wilderness recommendation was gathered using the mapping tool. Click here to learn more about the wilderness inventory and evaluation process.  If you would like to view comments that were submitted on a map about the wilderness inventory on the Flathead National Forest use the following link:  Wilderness inventory on the Flathead National Forest E-Collaboration Map Tool

Comment Period on the Proposed Action for the Revised Forest Plan ended May 15

The public comment period concluded on May 15, 2015.To view the notice published in the Federal Register click here.   (updated 5/5/15)

The next opportunity to comment will be during the 90-day comment period on the draft enviromental impact statement (expected release date January 2016).

Comments on the proposed action during the 70-day scoping period help us to identify the range of issues to be addressed and the significant concerns related to the proposed action. This scoping process will assist the interdisciplinary team in developing a reasonable range of alternatives and in the analysis and documentation of the environmental and social effects of the proposed plan components and alternatives, in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) procedures.

We asked for input to help us define a reasonable range of alternatives. We identify that range based on comments you provide in response to the proposed action. Before commenting we suggest that you look at the proposed action’s management direction and corresponding maps.

Commenters were asked to consider the following questions:

  • Do you agree/disagree with plan components (e.g., desired conditions, objectives, standards, and guidelines)?  If you disagree, what changes would you suggest or can you suggest additional management direction that you would like to see considered?
  • Do you have suggestions for management areas that need to be included or areas delineated differently?
  • Do you have specific feedback on the wilderness inventory and wild and scenic river evaluations?

Scoping Period

The decision to approve the revised forest plan for the Flathead National Forest and the amendment for the Helena, Lewis and Clark, Kootenai, and Lolo National Forests will be subject to the objection process identified in 36 CFR Part 219 Subpart B (219.50 to 219.62).  Only those individuals and entities who have submitted substantive formal comments related to the Flathead NF plan revision and the four amendments during the opportunities provided for public comment (beginning with this comment period), will be eligible to file an objection (36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 219.53(a)).

Open House Schedule CONCLUDED

The following community meetings were held to provide additional information and address questions related to the Flathead NF plan revision and the amendment proposed action. The open houses will provide an opportunity for you to meet with subject matter specialists (wildlife biologist, forester, recreation specialist, fish biologist) and ask questions about the proposed management direction. There will not be any formal presentations at the open houses so stopping by at any time between 5:30 and 7:30 is fine.
 

Date/ Time

Community

Location

March 17, 5:30-7:30 pm

Kalispell

Flathead NF Supervisors Office, 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell MT 59901

March 19, 5:30-7:30 pm

Eureka

Riverstone Family Lodge, 6370 US Hwy 93N, Eureka, MT 59917

April 7, 5:30-7:30 pm

Seeley Lake

Seeley Lake Community Center, Seeley Lake, MT 59868

April 8, 5:30-7:30 pm

Missoula*

Fort Missoula Pavilion, Missoula, MT 59804

April 9, 5:30-7:30 pm

Superior*

Superior Ranger Station Conference Room, Superior, MT 59872

April 14, 5:30-7:30 pm

Lincoln*

Lincoln Community Hall, 404 Main St., Lincoln, MT 59639

April 15, 5:30-7:30 pm

Choteau*

Stage Stop Inn, 1005 Main Ave. North, Choteau, MT 59422

*Primary focus  is NCDE Grizzly Bear Amendment

Past Meetings (and related documents)

The Meridian Institute was contracted by the Flathead National Forest to facilitate stakeholder collaboration. Additional information about the collaborative process and related resources can be found on the Meridian Institute FNF forest plan revision website. (updated 6/24/2014) 

The Flathead National Forest Stakeholder Collaboration Final Report is now available (click here). The Report, which was prepared by Meridian Institute, provides an overview of the process and Meridian’s recommendations for future stakeholder engagement /collaboration processes. (updated 10/21/2014)

The Flathead National Forest hosted two open house sessions in August on the topic of Use of Vegetation Modeling in Forest Planning.  The first open house was on Tuesday, August 12, at the Flathead National Forest Supervisor’s Office, in Kalispell, Montana. The same material was presented the following evening, Wednesday, August 13, at the Swan Ecosystem Center in Condon. Two follow-up open house sessions were held December 3rd and 4th, 2014. Members of the forest plan revision team were present, including the silviculturist, wildlife biologist, and Regional analyst, to provide information and answer questions. Outputs of the vegetation simulation model (SIMPPLLE) were presented, and the Spectrum model was introduced.  (updated 12/18/2014)  

Meetings May 12-15 focused on management area designations within geographic areas:

  1. South and Middle Fork GAs, Monday, May 12
  2. Salish and Swan GAs, Tuesday, May 13
  3. Hungry Horse and North Fork GAs, Wednesday, May 14
  4. Forest-wide discussion, Thursday, May 15

Meeting agendas and background documents are posted here. (updated 5/16/2014)

Open House, Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 Swan Valley Community Hall in Condon from 4 pm to 6 pm.

Meetings that focused on geographic area desired conditions were held April 21 through April 24, 2014.

Meetings that focused on forest-wide objectives were held on March 19 and 20, 2014

Meetings that focused on forest-wide desired conditions were held on February 19 and 20, 2014

Stakeholder Collaboration Meeting - Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 from 4:30-9:00 pm

Orientation Meeting - Thursday, December 5th, 4:00 pm - 8:30 pm. At the Orientation Meeting (on 12/5) two working groups were established: 1) habitat, vegetation, and disturbances; 2) recreation, access, and recommended wilderness. Stakeholders may participate in either or both work groups or may opt to not actively participate in either work group but attend meetings and contribute to the discussions or submit comments.

Four field trips throughout the Flathead National Forest

  1. Forest vegetation and disturbances including fire, timber harvest and forest products – August 8, 2013, Tally Lake District
  2. Recreation settings opportunities and access, existing wilderness, and scenic character – August 29, 2013, Hungry Horse/Spotted Bear Districts
  3. Terrestrial and aquatic habitats, threatened and endangered species, and species of conservation concern, and invasive species – September 12, 2013, Swan Lake District
  4. Inventoried Roadless Area, recommended wilderness, and wild and scenic rivers – September 26, 2013, Glacier View District

Process Workshop - September 25th - 4:00 - 8:00pm, Flathead National Forest Supervisor's Office

Process Feedback - November 13th

Open House - October 29th - 5:00 - 8:00pm, Flathead National Forest Supervisor's Office

Supporting Documents and Data

  
News Releases, Fact Sheets and Frequently Asked Questions:

 
Comments on the Plan Revision Process


We need your help in planning the future of the Forest. If you would like to send comments or suggestions about Forest Plan revision you can send an email to:  flatheadplanrevision@fs.fed.us .

 

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