Forest Service seeks input on Van Lake improvements

March 5, 2019

Van Lake’s popularity with campers and others bent on recreation presents a common dilemma.

Increasing use of the lake, which is about 20 miles south of Swan Lake, and its dispersed camping have caused damage to the landscape and to the lake that the U.S. Forest Service wants to address.

On Tuesday, the Swan Lake Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest announced it is seeking public comment on proposed improvements to the site.

Chris Dowling, ranger of the Swan Lake Ranger District, said in a news release that the project is needed “due to the resource damage that is occurring, partly as a result of the increased popularity of recreation around the lake.”

The Forest Service’s proposed changes include, but are not limited to:

• Construction of two short campground loop roads.

• Addition of a small parking space for boat trailers.

• Improvements to the boat launch ramp to reduce erosion and sediment loading to the lake.

• Definition of six dispersed campsites with parking areas, tent pads, picnic tables, food storage lockers and fire rings.

• Walking paths would be defined from the campsites to the lake and other non-official trails would be rehabilitated.

• Removal of hazard trees.

Additional project Information is available at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=55481.

The Swan Lake Ranger District said public comments received by March 15 “would be the most helpful.”

Scoping comments can be submitted via email to comments-northern-flathead-swan-lake@fs.fed.us with “Van Lake Project” in the subject line; or sent to Swan Lake Ranger District, Attn: Van Lake Project, 200 Ranger Station Road, Bigfork, MT 59911.