Kootenai National Forest
|Kootenai National Forest|
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
|Nearest city||Libby, MT|
|Area||2,200,000 acres (9,000 km2)|
|Governing body||U.S. Forest Service|
Kootenai National Forest is located in the far northwestern section of Montana and the northeasternmost lands in the Idaho panhandle, United States along the Canadian border. Of the 2.2 million acres (9,000 km2) administered by the forest, less than 3 percent is located in the state of Idaho. Forest headquarters are located in Libby, Montana. There are local ranger district offices in Eureka, Fortine, Libby, Trout Creek, and Troy. Most (about 53%) of the 94,272 acre (381.5 km2) Cabinet Mountains Wilderness area is located within the forest, with the balance lying in neighboring Kaniksu National Forest. Wilderness designation prohibits motorized and mechanical travel, including bicycles and eliminates logging, mining, road and or building construction.
Snowshoe Peak in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness at 8,738 feet (2,700 m) is the highest peak within the forest. Mountain ranges included in the forest include the Whitefish, Purcell, Bitterroot, Salish, and Cabinet ranges.
The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail traverses the Forest. More than 90 miles of the 1,200 mile long trail are within the Kootenai.
The Kootenai and the Clark Fork river are the major rivers and are fed by abundant rainfall that is more than double that amount found elsewhere in Montana. Three major hydroelectric dams exist in the Kootenai National Forest with Libby Dam on the Kootenai river creating a 90 mile (145 km) long lake known as Lake Koocanusa (a play on Kootenai-Canada-United States of America), which extends into Canada. The shores of the lake are all forest land with no private property easements. The lowest elevation in Montana is where the Kootenai River leaves the state (1,832 feet/ 560 m). Other rivers in the forest include the Yaak, Fisher, Tobacco and Vermillion, with water flowing from over 100 lakes.
The climate of the Kootenai has been described as "modified Pacific maritime" in character, meaning that compared to the remainder of Montana, this area's climate resembles that found along the Pacific coast. The character becomes "modified" by occasional intrusions of arctic air masses, more commonly found in the remainder of the State, which can bring winter temperatures down to -30 °F (-34 °C). with heavy snowfalls in the mountains.
The forest is located overwhelmingly (almost 95%) in Lincoln County, Montana, but extends into neighboring counties. In descending order of forestland area they are Flathead County in Montana, Bonner and Boundary counties in Idaho, and Sanders County in Montana.
- "Kootenai National Forest". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved 2006-07-08.
- "Pacific Northwest Trail". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved 2013-11-19.
- "Cabinet Mountains Wilderness". The National Wilderness Preservation System. Wilderness.net. Retrieved 2006-07-08.