After a winter 2021 blowdown event at Spencer, the DNRC notified FAMB and trail partner Whitefish Legacy Partners that the DNRC planned to conduct a timber salvage operation. FAMB and many of you submitted comments pleading with the DNRC to help us mitigate the damage to trail and trailhead improvements at Spencer.
The DNRC's Checklist Environmental Assessment dated June 29, 2021 indicated that they plan to implement operational strategies designed to minimize damage to licensed trails, including a required agreement between the salvage operator and the DNRC project lead to "limit skid trail locations and trail crossing frequencies". FAMB and WLP will not receive reimbursement for SRUL fees beyond a pro rata share of the acreage fee, which covers only trailhead/parking amenities and not licensed trails.
More recently, we received word that this operation is most likely not going to happen until Spring 2022. We would obviously prefer this operation to occur during winter months when the ground is frozen (which would further limit trail infrastructure damage), but we are told by the DNRC that a winter operation is highly unlikely due to contractor schedules. On state trust lands like Spencer, these timber harvest operations are awarded to the bidder that will bring the state trust beneficiaries the most revenue, and the contractor has some leeway in terms of project timing.
FAMB will be meeting with the DNRC project lead before the salvage operation begins to provide feedback on the least intrusive locations for skid trails and trail crossings, and the DNRC has expressed a desire to work with us to prevent unnecessary damage to trails and trail infrastructure. Rest assured that we will do what we can to urge the salvage operator to limit damage to trails and features, and we will be at the ready to make repairs after the operation has concluded. We thank so many of you who submitted comments in support of Spencer. And as always, we will keep you informed.
Flathead Area Mountain Bikers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is working to promote mountain biking and improve trail access in the Flathead Valley.