The Flathead National Forest Plan revision process has been underway for several years now, and FAMB has spent hundreds of hours following the process, attending meetings, keeping you in the loop, and doing everything we can to shape the direction of the Plan. Many of you submitted comments to the Forest Service as well, which we believe had a real impact on the results.
The Flathead National Forest recently released its new forest plan, and we're pleased to announce that it's looking good for mountain biking in the Flathead! The Plan that has been released will govern everything that happens on the Flathead National Forest for years to come. While the process isn't completed, we expect the final plan won't change much with respect to bike access.
-The Plan includes "front country" areas that are designated as appropriate for recreation, including building new trails. These areas include the forests to the north of Columbia Falls and to the north of Whitefish, around the the Foys to Blacktail trail, near Tally Lake, and near Crane Mountain to the south of Bigfork.
-FAMB pushed for new trail construction in the southern Whitefish Range. In addition to the front country designations, the plan specifically calls for new trails to be built north of Columbia Falls and Whitefish, and we're already working towards realizing that goal.
-We lobbied to keep key trails outside of recommended wilderness areas to preserve bike access. This includes a variety of trails in the Swan Valley, trails near Jewel Basin, and trails along the Whitefish Divide.
-No major trails will be closed. Alpine 7, Columbia, the Whitefish Divide, and trails in the Tally area will all remain open to bikes.
-The Plan maintains appropriate protections to ensure the forest will be alive and healthy for future generations, which we support wholeheartedly.
Overall, while there's always more we could wish for, the Forest Plan sets up the potential for decades of improved mountain bike opportunities in the Flathead. Thank you all for your efforts in this endeavor!!
Flathead Area Mountain Bikers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is working to promote mountain biking and improve trail access in the Flathead Valley.