In what it called “a first” for the agency, the Forest Service recently announced a plan to construct four rental cabins in the Flathead National Forest at an existing campground site. The Forest Service stated the cabins would provide an opportunity for new users to experience and learn about the national forest as well as long time users who no longer have the ability or equipment to enjoy the site. The cabins would be 300-600 square feet, each with a 20 x 30 foot parking pad. Each cabin would have a 6-person capacity and cost about $75,000. In addition, a 50 x 100 foot livestock corral along with two stock trailer parking pads would be constructed. Also, the agency will create a “nature playscape” using various natural and artificial items such as rocks and stumps in a cleared area with wood chip mulch.
The agency said the rental cost will be in line with other Forest Service rental cabins and between $50-$85 per night. The forest will be able to retain 95% of the revenues to cover the cost of maintenance.
The agency stated that the project fell under a categorical exclusion which applies to projects that involve less than 20 acres. A local group, however, has opposed the plan as unwarranted development in backcountry which will increase human use of the area and potentially be used by outfitters and their clients. The group reportedly asserted the proposal “reeks of empire building at the expense of public resources.”