Montana Public Radio

Chip Weber

Flathead National Forest

The Flathead National Forest announced Friday that it has a new leader. Kurt Steele will replace former Forest Supervisor Chip Weber who retired earlier this month.

Swan Lake Ranger Station.
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio

Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Weber announced Monday that he will retire in 2020, ending his 30-year career with the U.S. Forest Service.

Weber began his decades-long career with the Forest Service working on an ecology crew in southwest Oregon. He eventually went on to be a resource specialist on the Hoosier National Forest in Indiana and held two district ranger positions in Southeast Alaska and again in Oregon.

Glacier Loon Project Decision Notice April 2018
USDA

A multi-year court battle over the Glacier Loon timber sale in the Swan Valley will continue. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is now asking the lower court to decide whether the project needs to be reassessed under different regulations protecting grizzly bears. 

Grizzly bear mother and cub, stock photo.
(PD)

Planned races on trails in the heart of Northwest Montana’s grizzly habitat are reigniting a debate over adventure sports like mountain biking and ultrarunning in bear country.

"Good Neighbor Authority" allows states and tribes to help the Forest Service with projects on national forest land. The Taylor Hellroaring project near Whitefish is one such project.
U.S. Forest Service

Public comment ends this week on a Forest Service project near Whitefish which proposes to use so-called “good neighbor authority” to collaborate with the State of Montana. It’s a new approach that could mark a shift in which parties get a say in managing national forests.

Grizzly bear. Stock photo.
(PD)

Two Montana-based environmental groups Monday announced they’re preparing to sue the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the recently enacted Flathead National Forest Plan.

Swan View Coalition and Friends of the Wild Swan say the new management plan violates the Endangered Species Act by increasing road building in sensitive habitat for grizzly bears and bull trout. They plan to file their lawsuit if the agencies don’t act within the next 60 days.

Despite the government shutdown, U.S. Forest Service supervisors last week signed a new management plan for the Flathead National Forest, along with amendments that standardize grizzly bear management for the Lolo, Kootenai and Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forests.

Mid-Swan Project area and vicinity map.
USDA Forest Service

The Flathead National Forest is pitching a new project in northwestern Montana’s Swan Valley that it says would benefit forests, streams and human communities.

And it’s a big project, says Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Weber.

Fire managers on the Paola Ridge Fire outside Essex met with homeowners, some under pre-evacuation warnings last night.

Nicky Ouellet

Representative Greg Gianforte toured areas affected by the Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park Wednesday morning.

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