David Stalling
I just finished reading the editorial by Holland Lake Lodge owner Christian Wohlfeil, who seeks to sell and vastly expand his lodge.
The fact that his favorite guest was a tame, overweight captive grizzly at a lodge on public land, surrounded by wildlands inhabited by wild grizzlies, is indicative of the whole illusive, deceptive sham of this proposal.
He wants us to believe that a huge, Utah-based “adventure lifestyle” ski-resort corporation has “Montana values” and wants to protect the “natural environment” by cutting down trees, building a new lodge, tripling the size and capacity of the current historic lodge, and going from seasonal use to year-round use to protect the "soulfulness" of the place.
That’s not “Montana values,” and it certainly isn’t protecting the natural environment. It's pure, misleading marketing bunk.
I agree with the lodge owner that this proposal is preferable to "a multimillionaire seeking to use it as a second home and exclude it from others." It's also preferable to turning it into a nuclear waste site.
But fortunately, those are not possible options. This is public land that belongs to all Americans, administered by the U.S. Forest Service, with restrictions on what is and isn't allowed.
Here's are the options currently on the table: Keep this place the small, rustic, quiet place it's been for the past 100 years, or turn it into a much larger, busier resort that would drastically change the very nature and character of the place, with impacts to water-quality and wildlife, so the owner and a huge out-of-state corporation can profit from our public lands.
The choice is up to we, the people, who own the land. The Forest Service is accepting public comments on this horrible proposal until October 7th. Please let the agency know what you think. Here's the link: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=61746
A past president of the Montana Wildlife Federation and co-founder of Hellgate Hunters and Anglers, David Stalling has worked for the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited. He lives in Missoula.