The Flathead National Forest and Glacier National Park are preparing a new comprehensive management plan for the three forks of the Flathead River, and they want the public’s input. That’s according to an announcement today from the U.S. Forest Service.
Chris Schustrom with Montana Trout Unlimited says the Flathead River’s existing management plan is more than 20 years old and out of date.
"It didn’t really address fisheries issues because native fish were in good shape at that point. And a lot of native fish species in the Flathead, they’re in trouble now," he says.
The new federal management plan will evaluate the health of the Flathead watershed and map out future stewardship goals. It will also create a water monitoring strategy for the next 15 to 20 years.
The three forks of the Flathead River are managed under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. Under it, designated rivers must follow federal planning guidelines.
The Forest Service and Trout Unlimited’s Schustrom agree that, "it’s really important for the public to be engaged in the process, to attend the public meetings."
A series of public meetings over the next six months will address a variety of concerns, beginning with water quality on the evening of May 16. That meeting will be held at the Cedar Creek Lodge in Columbia Falls.
You can find more information on upcoming meetings and the comprehensive river management plan here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/flathead/home/?cid=fseprd573051&width=full