USFS extends comment period on Knotty Pine Project

After a contentious crowd put a quick end to an attempt by U.S. Forest Service employees on the Three River Ranger District to clear up significant misinformation on the Knotty Pine Project Wednesday, the comment period has been extended through May 7.

Troy District Ranger Kirsten Kaiser, a 25 year USFS veteran, introduced personnel who were set to explain aspects of the project and answer questions and said the primary purpose of the outdoor meeting at the McCormick Fire Station was to clear up the misinformation rampantly spread via social media and email.

“We are not cutting 7,000 acres,” she said. “We are not building an RV park. We are not paving a trail. We are not burning on private land. We are not aerial spraying weeds.”

But before USFS staff could expound or give answers, the questions and accusations started flying, even though Kaiser and some of those gathered pled for quiet and courtesy.

“One more outburst and we’re leaving,” Kaiser said, and that outburst began before the last word left her lips. About 17 minutes into the scheduled hour-long meeting, she called an end to the official presentation.

“There were a couple people that were very disruptive at the meeting and they kept interrupting every time the District Ranger tried to speak and present the information,” said NEPA planner Lisa Osborn, who is project leader. “It was very disappointing that we were not able to present what the project entails. The district specialists did stay around until 7 p.m. to answer questions from the public.”

The Knotty Pine Project is located north and west of Troy and includes Pine Creek, Curley Creek, Lime Creek, Rocky Creek, and Red Top Creek watersheds. Line Point, Murphy and Red Top mountains form the northern boundary of the project, the Idaho state line forms the western edge, the Kootenai River the southern boundary, and the Yaak River the eastern boundary.

The environmental assessment (EA) for the Knotty Pine Project is here.

The Knotty Pine EA and specialist reports can be found under the Analysis Tab below the Project Documents. The QR code will also take you to the project webpage.

In a release issued this morning, Osborn wrote that the Knotty Pine Project proposal does NOT include:

  • Aerial spraying for noxious weeds. It does include biocontrol and herbicide application for noxious weeds. See pages 6 -10 of the Noxious Weeds Report.
  • Management on private land.
  • An RV park. There is a rental group site proposed near Yaak Falls that will accommodate RVs. See pages 9-10 of the Access and Recreation Report.

Much of the contention revolved around affected residents being notified and provided accurate information, with many saying they’d not received any of the public notices.

In today’s release, available here, Osborn outlined the public outreach on the project to date and said information boards will be placed at the McCormick Fire Hall, Pine Creek fire station, the dumpsters located at Highway 2 and Yaak Highway 508.

Anyone who would like to be added to the project distribution list can email her at lisa.osborn@usda.gov to be added to the project mailing list and for more information.

“If you know of someone who did not receive this email and was at the public meeting, I couldn’t read their email address, so please pass this along to others who would like this information,” she said.

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