Forest Plan Revision
Page updated: April 7, 2023
Record of Decision
The final Record of Decision for the Flathead National Forest Land Management Plan has been signed and is now available. Implementation will begin soon. The land management plan will become effective 30 days after the publication of the Notice of Plan Approval in the Federal Register on December 27, 2018. Click here to jump to the documents.
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.
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.
Read the following documents by clicking on the titles below.
- Federal Register Notice of Plan Approval (December 27, 2018)
Record of Decision
- Cover Letter for the Record of Decision (January 28, 2019)
- Final Record of Decision for the Flathead National Forest Land Management Plan (December 2018)
Final Environmental Impact Statement
- Volume 1—Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Land Management Plan
- Volume 2—Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Land Management Plan
- Volume 3—Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Forest Plan Amendments to Incorporate Habitat Management Direction for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem Grizzly Bear Population on the Helena-Lewis and Clark, Kootenai, and Lolo National Forests
- Volume 4—Appendices and Glossary (excluding maps)
- Volume 4 Appendix 1: Maps Part 1 (figures 1-1 to 1-39)
- Volume 4 Appendix 1: Maps Part 2 (figures 1-40 to 1-81)
- Land Management Plan (2018) for the Flathead National Forest (excluding appendices) (pdf, 3.3 mb)
- Land Management Plan (2018) for the Flathead National Forest (pdf, 28 mb)
- Administrative Change to 2018 Flathead National Forest Land Management Plan, April 2023
Monitoring Evaluation Reports
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.
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.
- More information about the Flathead species of conservation consern can be found at Northern Region SCC website.
- The Flathead National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (1986)
- The Forest Plan Revision Wilderness Inventory and Evaluation webpage.
- The Forest Plan Revision Collaboration, Communication, and Conversations webpage; includes links to wilderness inventory and evalutation, and management area designations.
- Click Here for geospatial data related to forest plan revision.
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.