Tag Archives: U.S. Forest Service

Glacier Gateway Project seeks backing

Map showing proposed Glacier Gateway land acquisition

Map showing proposed Glacier Gateway Project land acquisition

In case you haven’t heard about it already, the Vital Ground Foundation and the US Forest Service are working on something called the “Glacier Gateway Project.”

They are proposing to acquire two properties totaling about 23 acres using Land and Water Conservation Funds (LWCF). The parcels are along the section of the Polebridge Loop Road between the Polebridge Mercantile and the entrance to Glacier National Park. The acquisition would connect adjacent public lands managed by the Flathead National Forest along the designated Wild and Scenic corridor of the North Fork Flathead River.

The owners of both properties are willing sellers who wish to protect their lands from further development. (There are rumors that one potential buyer wanted to build an RV park.)

What’s the trails connection? The Pacific Northwest Trail runs along the Polebridge Loop Road after the trail emerges from Glacier Park. Sharing the road with motorized traffic, especially during tourist season, is less than ideal. Acquiring the Glacier Gateway parcels makes it easier for the Forest Service to achieve its eventual goal of a separate trail parallel to the road.

Here’s the deal: Vital Ground and the Forest Service are hoping to get individuals and organizations to send in letters of support for this proposal *by the end of the month.*

Want to read more? Here are the project documents:

Glacier Gateway Project Fact Sheet
Glacier Gateway Project Pictures
Glacier Gateway Project Sample Support Letter (Word format; also see note below)

NOTE: Even though the sample letter is addressed to Leanne Marten, the USFS Regional Forester, please send letters of support (by email preferably) to Mitch Doherty at the Vital Ground Foundation so that he can scan them and include them with the application submission. Here is Mitch’s contact information:

Mitch Doherty
Conservation Program Manager
Vital Ground Foundation
20 Fort Missoula Rd 59804-7202
Missoula, MT
(406) 549-8650
MDoherty@VitalGround.org

 

Alert: USFS Northern Region invites public to help identify priority trail maintenance work

Moran Basin Trail (Trail 2) in Flathead NF, July 2014 - W. K. Walker

Moran Basin Trail (Trail 2) in Flathead NF, July 2014 – W. K. Walker

This press release by the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Region came out on March 14, but no one noticed it right away. Needless to say, we’ll be following up on this.

Short version: The public has until April 5, 2017 to submit ideas and comments “to help identify trails that will be part of a U.S. Forest Service effort with partners and volunteers to increase the pace of trail maintenance.” It looks like Kent Wellner at kwellner@fs.fed.us or (406) 329-3150 is the primary Northern Region point of contact for this.

Here’s the full text of the release . . .


Release Date: Mar 14, 2017 Missoula, MT
Contact(s): Scott Fenimore, 406-329-3047, Kent Wellner, 406-329-3150

Partners, volunteers integral to addressing maintenance backlog

MISSOULA, MONT. – The Northern Region is inviting the public to help identify trails that will be part of a U.S. Forest Service effort with partners and volunteers to increase the pace of trail maintenance.

Nationwide, the Forest Service will select nine to 15 priority areas among its nine regions where a backlog in trail maintenance has contributed to reduced access, potential harm to natural resources or trail users and/or has the potential for increased future deferred maintenance costs.

The Northern Region manages more than 28,000 miles of trails enjoyed by residents and visitors alike and includes opportunities for year-round motorized and non-motorized trail use of all types. In the Northern Region, volunteers and partner groups contributed approximately 112,000 hours of service maintaining trails in 2016.

”We’ve already received some ideas from our partners,” said Northern Regional Forester Leanne Marten, “and we’d like to hear more. Our volunteers and partners help make this Region great and are critical components to the trail maintenance program. We look forward to hearing from additional organizations and individuals in the coming weeks.”

Continue reading

Forest Service backs off (for now) on reductions in Montana trail maintenance funding

Trail 2, mile 2, Flathead NF, July 10, 2014 - by W. K. Walker

Trail 2, mile 2, Flathead NF, July 10, 2014 – by W. K. Walker

In the face of some angry senatorial blow-back, the Forest Service has restored full trail maintenance funding in Region 1. For now . . .

The U.S. Forest Service has dropped its proposal to reduce funding for trail maintenance in Montana. The agency originally planned to reduce appropriations for Region One, which includes Montana, by 30 percent over the next three years. This included a potential loss of $1 million to Montana’s federal trail budget this year.

U.S. Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester criticized Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell last week for failing to prioritize trail maintenance in Montana. The agency proposed revising its formula for funding trail maintenance across the U.S. with an added emphasis on higher population centers. In Region One, there are 28,000 miles of federally managed trails.

The agency on Friday said it would reconsider the formula change and withdrew the proposal.

Read more . . .

Also read: Forest Service backs off planned cuts in trail maintenance in Montana (Missoulian)

U.S. Forest Service strategy document paints bleak picture

The Forest Service has had a conflicting set of goals for the last few decades but, for Region 1 at least, things seem to be coming to a head. And it is not good news, especially for trails . . .

A new strategy for managing public lands for recreation, heritage and wilderness paints a bleak picture of the U.S. Forest Service’s own ability to tackle the job.

“You could say this looks like a D-minus report card,” said George Bain, Forest Service Region 1 director of recreation, lands, minerals, heritage and wilderness. “To us, this is how it is. We wanted to take a good, hard look and develop a strategy for how to work in that world. We don’t have all the money we’d want. We don’t have all the workforce we’d want. We don’t have the ability to take care of everything the way we’d like. This is the landscape we’re working in. Let’s see how to address this.”

The 50-page document released last August got little notice outside the Region 1 Missoula headquarters. But it had been more than a year in the drafting, and it has been signed by Regional Forester Leanne Marten, her deputies and the supervisors of all 10 national forests that report to her.

And note this part:

“Workforce skills are also on the decline” in maintaining Region 1’s 28,000 miles of trail. Most of the five Wild and Scenic River corridors lack completed management plans.

In late January, Bain delivered further bad news to a roundtable of recreation partners – Region 1’s trail maintenance budget is taking a 30 percent cut. That’s going to be phased in with 10 percent increments during the next three years. The money was getting reallocated to places like California that have more user-days of trail use.

Read more . . .

See also: The Northern Region Sustainable Recreation, Heritage, Wilderness (RHW) Strategy 2015-2020 (1.68MB, PDF)