A new report from the Swan View Coalition in Montana gives a thorough rundown on how the Flathead National Forest in particular – and the Forest Service and Congress in general – are using the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) and other collaboration and “restoration” initiatives to keep its bloated road system and fool the public into thinking the problem in America’s forests is too many trees and not too many roads.
For those involved in bull trout and water quality issues, the report also documents ongoing road-related travesties in Bunker, Sullivan, Coal, and other key watersheds on the Flathead National Forest. The report also describes how the Flathead National Forest is trying to cheat its way out of road decommissioning and begin to instead rebuild roads decommissioned previously.
Read the full report here.
In order to protect water quality and fish, the Flathead National Forest is required to either remove or monitor annually all culverts and bridges in roads closed in threatened bull trout habitat. Similarly, the Flathead is required to develop a monitoring plan for each road it chooses to simply close in providing Security Core habitat for threatened grizzly bear, rather than conducting the preferred reclamation by removing all stream-crossing structures.
Our investigation finds the Flathead has developed none of the required stream-crossing monitoring plans for roads closed to provide Security Core. Nor has it annually monitored stream-crossing structures on closed roads in bull trout habitat. Though the Forest Service set forth these requirements and the need for them, the Flathead has failed to implement them. Rather than correct the problem, it has instead set upon a course to do away with such requirements – as culverts and bridges continue to fail on roads both open and closed to motor vehicles.
This report will discuss how the Flathead tracks its roads and stream-crossing structures, discuss how it does and does not monitor them, and provide examples of the consequences when it fails to adequately manage them. It will conclude with recommendations on how to get the effort back on track rather than abandon it to the detriment of fish, wildlife and taxpayers.