Forest Service OKs some motorized use for Rattlesnake dam removal

The U.S. Forest Service is poised to allow limited use of a helicopter, motor vehicles and two motorized tools to remove the McKinley Lake Dam in the Rattlesnake Wilderness north of Missoula next summer. 

The dam, like a few others that raised the level of natural lakes high in the Rattlesnake Mountains, is owned by the city of Missoula, which acquired the structures as part of its municipal water system. That gives the city the right to access and maintain the dams — or remove them altogether. But because the dams are located within designated wilderness managed by the Forest Service, the Forest Service can analyze and place conditions on city proposals for work on the dams.

The lakes haven’t been used for the city’s water supply for more than 40 years. 

Rob Roberts of Trout Unlimited points to signs of erosion in the emergency spillway near McKinley Lake in the Rattlesnake Wilderness north of Missoula. 

BEN ALLAN SMITH, Missoulian

In a draft decision notice released last week, Lolo National Forest Supervisor Carolyn Upton elected to move forward with what the agency

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