Opponents of plans to expand the historic Holland Lake Lodge are accusing the U.S. Forest Service of violating federal environmental rules, and "demanding" the agency consider whether the project is in the "public interest".

Friday's action is the latest step in the festering fight over plans by Utah-based POWDR to restore, and expand the lodge, which dates to the 1920s. While the company says it will be doing a necessary updating of the lodge, conservation groups and many Missoula and Swan Valley residents are worried about the addition of a restaurant, new guest facilities, and other amenities.

Part of the concern stems from POWDR's extensive ski holdings across the country, including some of the largest in the West.

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Friday, Save Holland Lake, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Alliance for the Wild Rockies gave formal notice to Flathead National Forest, saying the agency has violated the National Environmental Policy Act while considering a new operating permit for the lodge.

“Rather than working almost exclusively for a huge ski corporation that wants to commercialize America’s public lands, the Forest Service should listen to the people, follow our laws and their regulations and deny this corporation’s request to build a destination resort at Holland Lake because it’s simply not in the public interest,” - Bill Lombardi of Save Holland Lake

In the letter, attorneys for the Center for Biological Diversity demanded the Forest Service consider the "public interest" before issuing POWDR a new special use permit. They argue that determination could kill the application "without further analysis."

Although Flathead National Forest officials decided to take a second look after the first application hit a wall of opposition last fall, the opponents claim that the review is happening "with no public involvement." And they claim that "almost 99%" of the 6,500-plus comments received last year were opposed to the expansion, showing it's "not in the public interest."

The groups threaten a lawsuit if the Forest Service doesn't respond to their request.

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