MISSOULA - U.S. Forest Service officials have rejected POWDR's proposal for the expansion at Holland Lake Lodge.
They cite inaccuracies between the master development plan and the proposed plan.
Tammy MacKenzie, the public information officer for the Flathead National Forest, told MTN the plan to expand the lodge at the base of the Swan Mountain Range was bigger than what was originally asked for.
POWDR, an adventure lifestyle company out of Park City, Utah, was hoping to expand the lodge under its existing 15-acre special use permit. Their original master development plan was submitted to the Forest Service in April.
The Flathead National Forest announced the plan and opened public comment on the project on Sept. 1, 2022.
With the rejection of the proposal, Mackenzie said it was a "reset to the process" meaning a new proposal would have to be screened and shared with the public, all over again.
Leaders behind the project released a statement on their website, the Future for Holland Lake Lodge, saying in part:
"We plan to resubmit our plan for future investment and infrastructure improvements at Holland Lake Lodge. We remain steadfast and optimistic to fulfill the vision for Holland Lake Lodge that many Montana residents and other Americans support."
Save Holland Lake released the following statement in reaction to the decision:
The statement from Flathead National Forest spokesperson Tami MacKenzie that the Forest Service is “ceasing evaluation on the master development plan and proposal for expansion” is very welcome news. The Forest Service is finally listening to the public – Montanans and Americans who care deeply about their public lands.
We believe the public is entitled to see the 11/21/22 letter from the Flathead National Forest to POWDR explaining why they have denied POWDR’s proposal and we ask the Forest Service to release it to the public.
It is very important for everyone, including the public, to understand the reasons why the Flathead National Forest is “ceasing evaluation.” We remain convinced that the Forest Service has a legal duty to deny the proposed expansion because it is not in the public interest.
The Flathead National Forest should make it clear to Holland Lake Lodge Inc. and any other future holders of the special use permit, that any proposed significant expansion of Lodge facilities, guest capacity, period of use, or changes in permit boundaries will likely be denied.
If POWDR or anyone else submits another proposal for new construction, reconstruction, or boundary adjustments to the Holland Lake Lodge special use permit, we expect the Forest Service to promptly inform the public and objectively evaluate the proposal using the required screening criteria.
Our desire is to see that the National Forest lands around Holland Lake remain a refuge for native fish, common loons, wildlife, and quiet, sustainable recreation for current and future generations.
The Forest Service’s duty is to protect the public interest, not the financial interest of a few individuals looking to profit from excessive development of precious public lands.
We are forever grateful to each and every person and organization who submitted comments to the Forest Service opposing POWDR’s proposed massive expansion of Holland Lake Lodge.
The Forest Service expects to release an official statement on the rejection sometime next week.