WLP proposes Spencer Mountain guidelines as part of “Recreation Stewardship Initiative”

Whitefish Legacy Partners (WLP) is proposing a set of recreation-friendly recommendations to maintain existing recreational uses and provide for future recreational use as part of the proposed timber harvest of the Spencer Mountain area.  Spencer Mountain encompasses 2500 acres of public state trust lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) for benefit of Montana’s schools and universities.

WLP wants to maintain the high quality recreational experience that Spencer Mountain provides long term.  According the David Noftsinger, designer of the Whitefish Trail, the recreational experience is about more than the trail itself.  “It’s about surroundings, the views, and the movement up, down, around, and through different types of environments–open, closed, sunny, shady.”

The guidelines recommend leaving more large trees, giving viewsheds a natural, varied appearance, cleaning up disturbed sites, minimizing the construction of new roads, and reducing wildfire fuels.  In particular areas of concern, like the 72 acres behind Spencer Lake, the guidelines recommend paying attention to aesthetics.

“Areas like Spencer Mountain are irreplaceable community treasures.  The Spencer Mountain as we know it is going to change–some people will like it, some won’t.  We hope we can continue to enjoy high quality views, trails and quiet places to get away from it all,” said Diane Conradi, director of Whitefish Legacy Partners.

The aim of WLP’s “Recreation Stewardship Initiative” is to secure and enhance the high quality recreation and conservation values state trust lands provide.  Whitefish Legacy Partners, the builders of the Whitefish Trail, has already built twelve miles of trail on state trust and private lands and has plans to build another six miles in the Beaver Lakes area in 2011.

WLP, and its partners, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, DNRC and the City of Whitefish are exploring ways to create public recreation areas that include trails, forest management, viewshed, wildlife, and watershed protection while compensating Montana’s schools and universities.

The Spencer Lake Timber Sale Environmental Assessment is open for comments until January 24, 2011.  The sale proposes to treat 1650 acres, build 9.5 miles of new roads, reopen 10 miles of existing roads, and take place over several years.   The Draft Environmental Assessment is available for review at www.dnrc.mt.gov.

The DNRC DRAFT Timber Sale environmental assessment Report is posted at  http://www.dnrc.mt.gov/env_docs/december/SpencerLake.pdf

WLP Spencer Mtn. Recreation Stewardship Area: Guidelines for Existing and Future Recreation Uses for the Spencer Lake Timber Sale Report, submitted to the DNRC, Monday, January 24, 2011.

Download the Recreation Stewardship Initiative maps: 1. WLP Rec. Stewardship Area Proposed Timber EA Guidelines and 2. WLP Guidelines with DRNC EA Harvest Units