The owner of the West Glacier KOA Campground has submitted detailed plans to the Flathead County Planning and Zoning Department to expand the facility by about a third.
Located off U.S. 2 about 1.5 miles south of the turnoff to Glacier National Park, the campground currently has 109 RV spaces, 20 tent sites, 29 cabins without bathrooms, 11 cabins with bathrooms and one tourist house.
The facility, which is open about 3-4 months each year and is screened from the highway by dense forest, also has a 20,000 gallon swimming pool, playground, basketball and volleyball courts, and an indoor recreation room with pool and foosball tables.
Owner Greg McClure proposes adding 56 RV spaces on 16.2 acres. Construction would come in two phases, with 36 spaces completed by spring 2014 and 20 more completed within 2-3 years of the first phase.
The KOA Campground is located within the Middle Canyon zoning area, which allows expansion of an existing RV campground after a major land-use review. Eric Mulcahy, of Sands Surveying, prepared an application of the major land-use review and a preliminary plat request.
McClure is requesting one variance — he doesn’t want to pave the internal roads. He notes that the facility is not used year-round, it’s privately owned with rented spaces and units, vehicle speeds are limited to 10-15 mph, he takes dust-control measures, and the campgrounds typically do not have paved roads. He said he wanted to preserve the rural setting.
An environmental assessment prepared for the proposed project found no steep slopes, no surface waters, no perennial or intermittent streams, and no wetlands in the affected area. Six test holes were dug on March 1 to assess groundwater, which is believed to be more than eight feet below the surface. McClure’s application notes that a civil engineer involved in the project said an expanded sewer system would work well at the site.
McClure plans to add a fourth well to his state-approved public water system and add two drainfields to the facility’s sewer system. Each of the new RV spaces would be provided water, sewer, electric, phone and Wi-Fi service. He also plans to build a new bath house by spring 2014.
The environmental assessment also did not find any critical plant communities. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist John Vore did not expect much in the way of negative impacts on wildlife because it was an expansion of an existing facility, not a new facility. Vore did offer recommendations for equipment and procedures to reduce grizzly bear conflicts, including bear-proof garbage and food storage. The campground has already been following those practices.
About 210 acres of adjacent land is owned by McClure and his family. He has sprayed for noxious weeds and thinned surrounding forest as a fire prevention measure. A draft fire control and fuels reduction plan was submitted with the RV expansion plan.