Forest Service rejects proposed expansion to Holland Lake Lodge
The Flathead National Forest has rejected a plan to expand the Holland Lake Lodge.
Flathead National Forest Supervisor Kurt Steele announced his decision to deny the proposed expansion from Utah-based ski company POWDR in a letter sent to current lodge owner Christian Wohlfeil dated November 21.
In the letter obtained by MTPR, Steele made his decision due to “inaccuracies and inconsistencies” within the project’s master development plan.
“I think a reset is the best way, you know, that I can frame it,” Forest Service Public Affairs Officer Tami MacKenzie said.
MacKenzie says Steele’s decision means Holland Lake Lodge’s majority stakeholder Christian Wohlfeil and POWDR must now submit a new application and Master Development Plan if they wish to expand the lodge.
In an email, POWDR spokesperson Stacey Hutchinson said the company does not consider the forest service’s action a “rejection” of the proposal.
“We plan to resubmit our plan for future investment and infrastructure improvements at Holland Lake Lodge that is very much in line with our previously submitted Master Development Plan,” Holland Lake Lodge Inc, the joint venture between Wohlfeil and POWDR, wrote on its website in response to the decision.
Bill Lombardi is a spokesperson for the Save Holland Lake group, which organized against the proposed expansion. He said Wednesday afternoon he hadn’t seen the internal letter that shows Steele’s rejection of the project.
“If that is true, that is good news — that the Forest Service has heard the public speak, and understands that we need accurate information and that we need to be able to trust the Forest Service and the process,” Lombardi said. “That letter should be put out to the public so the public knows what is going on.”
MacKenzie told MTPR she and the Forest Service will work on a plan to release more information to the public after the Thanksgiving weekend.
She added that the service will continue to investigate concerns raised by attorneys with Save Holland Lake that the lodge already violated its permit to operate on public land by changing ownership.