Forest Service to Hold Public Hearing on Holland Lake Expansion
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - In case you haven’t yet heard, the iconic Holland Lake Lodge has been sold to a company called POWDR Corporation that plans to tear down the old Holland Lake Lodge and triple the size of the resort and expand its use to include winter recreation.
KGVO News spoke to Kristine Akland, Northern Rockies Attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity that opposes the expansion of the recreation area due to environmental concerns.
“They plan on knocking down the current Holland Lake Lodge and building a new fancy resort style lodge, but also building over 35 smaller cabins on the area, building new docks, increasing the amount of wastewater and they're going to put in many new administrative buildings and support buildings to support this huge increase in capacity,” began Akland.
Akland said the Center for Biological Diversity opposes the project for several reasons, not the least of which is the potential for permanent damage to the wilderness area.
“It is in between the Mission (Mountains) and the Bob Marshall Wilderness, but there's also an inventory roadless area and a proposed wilderness adjacent to the lake,” she said. “Not only that, but it's a really important area to grizzly bears. It's also a very important area to lynx to bull trout. Holland Lake is bull trout critical habitat.”
What concerns Akland and other environmental groups is the fact that POWDR Corp will be allowed to make all these changes without any public review.
“The Forest Service has indicated that they're going to allow POWDR Corp to expand the Holland Lake Lodge without complying with all of the laws that require an environmental analysis to be performed before any anything is done on Forest Service land,” she said.
Akland said there are two meetings on Tuesday, October 4 that the public can attend to get more information and make comments.
“The brown bag lunch with the Forest Service and POWDR Corp are going to be from noon to two at the Condon Community Hall, and then the hearing where the public can voice their concerns about the project is at Seeley Lake Elementary School from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.”
POWDR Vice President Stacey Hutchinson provided these comments to KGVO following the publication of Monday’s interview with Kristine Ackland with the Center for Biological Diversity.
"There are a lot of myths, unfortunately, and a lot of misinformation that's out there and swirling around and I was able to dispel some of those yesterday ( at the public meeting in Seeley Lake), mostly around ski lifts, helicopters, helicopter skiing, and snowmobiles,” said Hutchinson. “We're not doing any of that. I know that's been widely reported. It's also very clear from our master development plan, as well as a lot of the conversations we've been having in the community as well as with the press, that we're not knocking down the current lodge that's there. I know that Miss Ackland said that in her press release a couple days ago. And that's not true and she should know better."
"There was a claim by Miss Ackland that we're able to make all these changes without any public review, and that the Forest Service is letting us expand the lodge without complying with any of the laws or anything like that,” said Hutchinson. “The public review is now. That's this process that we are going through. Mr. Steele at the Forest Service extended the comment period to October 7, which is Friday through the end of the day. He's also offered another comment period after the environmental reviews have been completed. And so we are not doing anything that is out of step with the Forest Service or those that have stuck with the current laws or policies or procedures there. I just want to make sure that that the public knows and is not swayed by any of this knowing sharing of lies and misinformation about the project."
“Our goal is to see Holland Lake Lodge succeed for generations of families to enjoy. We are looking forward to enhancing the guest experience while being respectful of the land, environment, and wildlife. The Master Development Plan will preserve the current lodge while adding a new lodge and 16 cabins preserving the spirit and integrity of what is currently there, while also making them more sustainable and energy efficient to last another 100 years. Employee housing and a new restaurant are also part of the plan. For more information on our plan and company, visit www.HollandLakeFuture.com”
Originally built in 1925, and then rebuilt in 1947 following a fire, the Holland Lake Lodge currently accommodates 50 people for small summer events.