Forest Plan Revision

On this page: Introduction | Purpose of the land management plan | Documents | Objections | Next Steps | More Links | Keep Informed

Page updated: November 23, 2018

Hungry Horse Reservoir from Doris Boat Launch

Final Environmental Impact Statement

The staff of the Flathead National Forest is pleased to announce the availability of the final environmental impact statement for the revised land management plan, as updated per the objection instructions.

The Forest Service is concurrently amending the land management plans of the Helena-Lewis and Clark, Kootenai, and Lolo National Forests to incorporate habitat management direction for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) grizzly bear population. The Flathead National Forest is proposing to incorporate the NCDE grizzly bear habitat management direction as part of its plan revision process. The Forest Service has prepared a single final environmental impact statement for its land management plan and the forest plan amendments. Additional information about the forest plan amendments is available at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/flathead/gbamend.

These documents reflect extensive public participation over the past 4 years through collaborative working group meetings and other public input. We greatly appreciate the commitment of interested participants who have provided important contributions toward the development of the plan and amendments. The documents also reflect a truly interdisciplinary team approach in the consideration of the input received.

Purpose of the land management plan

The National Forest Management Act directs the development, amendment, and revision of land management plans to provide for the multiple use and sustained yield of the products and services on National Forest System lands, including outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, wildlife and fish, and wilderness (16 U.S.C. 1604(e)). The 2012 planning rule guides this planning using a collaborative and science-based approach to promote the economic, social, and ecological sustainability of national forests and grasslands and other administrative units of the National Forest System. For more detailed information about the 2012 planning rule, see https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/planningrule/home/.

The existing forest plan is more than 30 years old, dramatically exceeding the 10-15 year duration of plans directed by the National Forest Management Act. Since the 1986 forest plan was completed, there have been changes in ecological, social, and economic conditions in the area, as well as changes in resource demands, and availability of new scientific information and new policy. These changes necessitate a plan revision to ensure that management direction is responsive to current issues and conditions. In particular, the plan revision addresses the following topics:

  • increasing demand for recreation opportunities and their importance in supporting local economies;
  • fire and fuels management direction that emphasizes active vegetation management near communities;
  • new analyses needed for timber production opportunities, an important historical driver for local economies;
  • conservation of wildlife and aquatic habitat, including updating grizzly bear habitat management direction and Inland Native Fish direction; and
  • new policy and public interest in identifying areas for recommended wilderness and wild and scenic rivers.

Documents

Read the following documents by clicking on the titles below.

Final Environmental Impact Statement

Forest Plan

Objections

The decision to approve the revised forest plan for the Flathead National Forest is subject to the objection process identified in 36 CFR Part 219 Subpart B (219.50 to 219.62). A 60-day objection period on the draft records of decision, forest plan, NCDE Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy forest plan amendments, and final EIS ran concurrently with an objection period for the Regional Forester’s species of conservation concern for the Flathead National Forest. The objection period was initiated on December 14, 2017 with the publication of the notice of the opportunity to object in the newspapers of record. The Forest Service received seventy-four timely objections. Interested parties and objectors attended a series of meetings, April 11-13, 2018 in Kalispell, Montana to discuss objection issues.

The reviewing officers issued their written responses to the objection issues on August 16, 2018. The written responses set forth the reasons for the response and contained instructions to the responsible officials. The written responses are the final decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the objections. As instructed by the reviewing officer, modifications to the final environmental impact statement, land management plan, and to the planning record were completed. Additional information about the objections can be found on the archive page.

Next steps

The Forest Service anticipates the final record of decision and notice of plan approval will be issued 30 days after the Notice of Availability of the final environmental impact statement (Federal Register Notice published November 23, 2018). The final record of decision will include the instructions from the reviewing officer and how they were addressed.

Links to additional webpages, documents, and information

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Documents and materials associated with the FEIS/Draft ROD can be found on this archive page.

Documents and materials associated with the Draft EIS can be found on this archive page.





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