Hike service

Forest Service quietly seeks comment on 23 special use permits


Running circuits. Mountain bike excursions. Even a company that wants to transport docks to private landowners on Swan Lake.

These are just a sampling of the 23 Special Use Permits Flathead National Forest is considering for this summer season.

The Forest Service announced a public comment period on its Facebook page on April 30, but did not issue an official press release on the permits.

Some permits only cover a single event, such as Logan Health, which plans to hold a marathon on Sept. 24 with up to 1,000 runners. The route departs from Big Creek Campground and heads south on the North Fork Road to Columbia Falls.

Others are summer services. For example, Northwest Montana Adventures is asking for 200 days of service to provide guided ATV/UTV tours in the Tally Lake and Glacier View Ranger districts. Proposed dates of operation are June 1 through October 31 with normal road closure restrictions for side-by-sides or UTVs. Visitation would be permitted in conjunction with Stillwater State Forest.

Tours would begin in Stillwater State Forest and travel to Red Meadow Lake, but only to the east side of the Whitefish Divide.

The company has offered these tours in the past.

Another request is for trail running in the Whitefish Range.

Alpine Running Guides is requesting permission to offer guided running outings to trail runners. About 10 to 14 participants would be on each trip with one or two guides. Trails would include the Reid Divide Trail (#800) and the Nasukoin Trail (#375). Guests will receive transportation to and from the trailhead from Whitefish, snacks and lunch, as well as access to water filters, road maps, local knowledge/interpretations, and the ability to borrow pepper spray , depending on the permit application.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has long maintained that running on trails in grizzly bear country is strongly discouraged. A few years ago, a proposed Swan Crest ultramarathon was ultimately scrapped because trail runners would be out at night on grizzly bear terrain.

Other outfits don’t want to guide people so much as just get their gear, like bikes, to the trailheads

Whitefish Shuttle, for example, requests shuttle services, guided van tours, guided ATV rides, and/or rides on the Tally Lake and Hungry Horse/Glacier View system roads. A sightseeing route, as requested, is requested from Polebridge to Red Meadow Pass and down Upper Whitefish Road, with a pullover to Red Meadow Lake for a stretch and photo stop by bike or e-bike.

All told, they’re asking for 200 days of service.

A service day is defined as one person served. So if 14 people go on tour, that would be 14 days of service.

Public comments on the proposals are due May 18.

They are all listed at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/flathead/landmanagement/projects

A pdf list of proposals is available at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/…/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd1016648.pdf.