NewsLocal NewsWestern Montana News

Actions

Concerns voiced over Holland Lake Lodge expansion proposal during public meeting

Holland Lake Meeting
Posted at 4:22 PM, Oct 05, 2022

SEELEY LAKE - Last week we brought you a story of the controversy surrounding the expansion proposal at Holland Lake Lodge.

The historic lodge has been in operation on the shores of Holland Lake located at the base of the Swan Mountain Range on Flathead National Forest land since 1925.

Christian Wohlfeil has owned and operated the lodge for the last 21 years as a privately-owned for-profit business on 15 acres under a special use permit from the Flathead National Forest.

Christian has partnered with POWDR, an adventure lifestyle company out of Park City, Utah, that owns 11 ski resorts across the nation, proposing a plan that would nearly triple the existing footprint of the lodge.

Holland Lake Lodge Public meeting
People turned out on Oct. 4, 2022, at a meeting in Seeley Lake to raise concerns about a proposed expansion plan for the holland Lake Lodge.

The proposal has received backlash from community members citing potential environmental impacts, a lack of transparency and more.

“We are a community that cares deeply about our place and our people,” said concerned citizen Tom Beers.

Passion was displayed Tuesday night by those in opposition to the proposed Holland Lake Lodge Expansion project, with more than 300 people packed into the Seeley Lake gymnasium.

“And I just felt somebody had to speak for the valley, the people in the valley, because that to me is what’s most important, is the people,” added Beers.

Beers — who lives 25 miles from Holland Lake — is concerned about the changing culture and dynamics of the swan valley if expansion is approved.

WEB EXTRA: Tom Beers discusses concerns over the proposed expanison

“From highway use to how many people are going to be going up the Bob Marshall Wilderness, how many people on the lake, it’s just huge impact,” said Beers.

Grace Siloti owns and operates Mission Mountain Mercantile in Condon just minutes away from Holland Lake.

“I’ve lived there since 1976,” said Siloti.

Grace gave comment during the meeting, bringing up environmental concerns, she said development on the lakeshore could be devastating.

“I’m not against development, I’m not against business, but our little corridor up Highway 83 is such a special, unique place in so many ways, and every person that has moved into this corridor realize the sacrifice they will have to make to live there with mother nature,” said Siloti.

Officials with the US Forest Service, the lodge owner Christian Wohlfeil and representatives from POWDR answered questions from citizens and gave their own remarks.

“I really appreciated the turnout, there was a lot of great comments made, and just flat out impressive in terms of the amount of people that showed up today,” said Flathead National Forest Supervisor Kurt Steele.

WEB EXTRA: Flathead National Forest Supervisor Kurt Steele

Steele confirmed during the meeting that a second 30-day public comment period will open after further environmental analysis wraps up.

“So, we just went through the scoping period, that’s what we’re in right now, that’s our first time to engage the public in any kind of proposal like this, and then again we’re going to engage the public once we’ve done some analysis again at a minimum, at least for another 30-day public comment period and possibly more depending on what environmental study we decide to do,” said Steele.

Siloti said residents want to see full transparency with the proposal as the process continues.

“Because once something is ruined, once something is gone, especially of something like this, that will take three lifetimes to get back if they realize it’s a mistake, there’s no way to get it back,” said Siloti.

Steele said a final decision has not, and will not be made on the proposal until next February or March at the earliest.

Holland Lake Lodge
Since 1925, Holland Lake Lodge has been in operation on the shores of Holland Lake located at the base of the Swan Mountain Range on Flathead National Forest land.

“At this point, once this current comment period ends on October 7, we’re going to gather back up and figure how and what that new timeframe looks like, is it still February or March or does this change things, so we still haven’t made any decisions on that to date,” said Steele.

The current online public comment session runs through Oct. 7. Comments can be submitted online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=61746. Hand-delivered or mail comments can go to Shelli Mavor, Swan Lake Ranger Station, 200 Ranger Station Road, MT 59911.

Information on the Save Holland Lake page can be found here. Information from POWDR's Holland Lake Future page can be found here.