Appeal Withdrawn on Island Unit Trail System Project

Appeal Withdrawn on Island Unit Trail System Project

Forest and Appellant Successfully Negotiate on Issues


KALISPELL, MT – An appeal on a proposed trails project on the Swan Lake Ranger District for the designation and development of 41.6 miles of new motorized trails and 11.5 miles of new non-motorized trails on Blacktail Mountain was dropped after successful negotiations with the appellant.  The Island Unit Trail System Additions Project is in the area of National Forest System lands west of Lakeside and south of Kalispell and Kila commonly known as Blacktail Mountain. 

Island Trails


Lead appellant Adam Rissien with Wildlands CPR says, "The agreement reached on this project offers all interested stakeholders a chance to work collaboratively with the Flathead National Forest to address the long standing issues of unauthorized off-road vehicle use and problems with dust on Blacktail road. While by no means a perfect solution, the agreement does reduce the miles of new motorized trail behind peoples’ homes, and sets up a phased-in approach, which gives the Forest Service a chance to demonstrate success before opening the Kerr Mountain trails."


Swan Lake District Ranger Rich Kehr says this is a great way to move forward, “Resolution of this appeal allows implementation of the majority of the Island Unit Trails decision and provides for collaborative development with those who are interested in the project.  This decision provides for valuable non-motorized and motorized recreation opportunities in the Blacktail area.”


As part of the negotiations, the Flathead National Forest agreed to drop a portion of the lowest elevation motorized trail and connector on Kerr Mountain.  This segment is close to private lands and residences and was a great concern to the property owners there.  A number of agreements were also made:


  • The Forest Service agrees to not authorize wheeled motor vehicle use on National Forest System Road 2898 from its intersection with National Forest System Road 917 to its junction with National Forest System Road 10141, and to not authorize wheeled motor vehicle use on a portion of National Forest System Trail # 29907 (the Lower Z-Descent Trail) from its intersection with National Forest System Road 2898 to its intersection with National Forest System Road 10141 pursuant to the Island Unit Environmental Assessment.  Nothing in this agreement prohibits the FS from proposing any future action or changes to road or trail management.


  • The Forest Service agrees to work collaboratively with all interested and willing parties, including private landowners, recreational user groups, the Blacktail Mountain Ski Area, local and state agencies, and others to guide the implementation, monitoring and management of the Island Unit Trail Systems Additions Project.  The Forest Service will facilitate a meeting of the group at least once a year, but recognizes that more frequent meetings would be beneficial. 


  • The Forest Service agrees to phase implementation of the motorized trail portions of the project starting with the Truman Creek trail additions first, including conversion of currently closed roads to trails, construction of new motorized trails, implementation of effective closure devices throughout this portion of the system – including re-contouring portions of routes as needed, and implementation of patrol and monitoring plans. 


  • The Forest Service agrees that law enforcement patrols and law enforcement officers are a critical component of implementation, that law enforcement will be part of our patrol plan strategy, and further that we will work to increase our law enforcement capabilities in the project area.


  • The Forest Service agrees to work collaboratively with interested parties to explore options to provide increased levels of dust abatement on portions of Blacktail-Radar Road both on the portions in Federal Aviation Administration jurisdiction and National Forest jurisdiction. 


Appellant Leslie Gray says, “We are pleased with the resolution and we look forward to the collaborative efforts of multiple parties which will allow us to review the project, determine what issues exist, and potential resolution for these issues.  Frankly, we would have preferred to see the entire Kerr Mountain portion of the Island trails project scrapped, but I do think this is a very positive step forward for all concerned.  Time will tell.”


The project can now proceed to implementation of the two new motorized loop trail systems.  One is located in the Truman Creek Drainage that extends the existing Blacktail Wild Bill OHV Trail, and the other is located on Kerr Mountain, which is also part of the existing Blacktail Nordic Trail System.  Two new non-motorized trails totaling 11.5 miles are also authorized, the Foy’s to Blacktail Trail and a trail from Lakeside to Blacktail.  In combination with the existing trail system and designated roads to link it all together, there will be a total of 61 miles of trails on the Island Unit. 



9-14 FNF Island Unit Trail System.pdf