Sep 26 2016

Get your Forest Plan comments in now! Deadline is Oct 3!

Lake in Flathead National Forest

Lake in Flathead National Forest

Dear North Fork Preservation Association Member,

With all of the wild public lands in the North Fork, there is not one acre of designated Wilderness….yet.  This needs to change and YOU can play a significant role in this by writing a comment on the Flathead Forest Plan TODAY!

The Flathead National Forest is in the midst of its forest planning process.  Several years ago, members of NFPA participated in the Whitefish Range Partnership (WRP), a local citizen collaborative, in anticipation of the forest planning process.  The WRP represented various interests (loggers, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, backcountry horsemen, and wilderness advocates) and consensus was reached on 83,000 acres of proposed wilderness in the northern Whitefish Range.  This area includes the most spectacular peaks in the Whitefish Range: Nasukoin, Tuchuck, Hefty, Thompson-Seton, and Review.  We are hoping that the Flathead National Forest will include the northern Whitefish Range as Recommended Wilderness in their final Forest Plan and not allow any non-conforming uses in recommended wilderness.  (Recommended Wilderness is the first step in getting this area designated as Wilderness by Congress.)

A personal letter from you makes the biggest impact.  If you have hiked any of these peaks, please mention this in your letter.  If you don’t have time to write a personal letter and want the easy way, just go to and add your name and contact information to the letter that was written by the Montana Wilderness Association.

If you write your own personalized letter, send it to:

Chip Weber
Forest Supervisor
Flathead National Forest
650 Wolfpack Way
Kalispell, MT 59901

Please include support for the following things:

For the North Fork—

  1. Recommended Wilderness in the northern Whitefish Range following the map submitted by the Whitefish Range Partnership.
  2. Manage recommended Wilderness just like designated Wilderness, prohibiting motorized use and mountain biking.

For other areas in the Flathead National Forest–

  1. Expansion of the Bob Marshall Wilderness northward in the Swan Range to protect the Bunker and upper Sullivan Creek area
  2. Protect the Greater Jewel Basin, especially the western slope of the Swan Range, in recommended Wilderness.
  3. Expansion of the Mission Mountains Wilderness to include the lower-elevations, species rich-lands adjacent to it.
  4. Manage recommended Wilderness just like designated Wilderness, prohibiting motorized use and mountain biking.

Also, please support Alternative 3 in the Environmental Impact Statement to keep core grizzly bear habitat managed at the level that it has been in the past…… whether or not the grizzly is delisted.

We have a receptive Forest administration and a good chance of getting recommended wilderness additions if there are lots of comments from citizens.  Your comment is very important!  You can make a real difference! Thanks for taking the time to do this!  The deadline is October 3, so please submit your comments today!!


Warm Regards,
Debo Powers, NFPA President

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Sep 20 2016

Legendary conservationist John Craighead dead at 100

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

First Chuck Jonkel, now John Craighead . . .

John Craighead liked to quote fellow legendary conservationist Aldo Leopold, who once said “we should think like a mountain.”

The philosophy of following nature’s cues and looking “at the fundamentals of things” guided Craighead’s pioneering work in American conservation, its wild rivers and seminal studies of grizzly bears.

“I have listened to the voice of the mountain for most of my life,” said Craighead upon receiving The Wildlife Society’s Aldo Leopold Memorial Award in 1998.

The mountains still talk, but they lost one of their most avid listeners Sunday morning when John Craighead died in his sleep at his home of more than 60 years in southwest Missoula.

Read more . . .

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Sep 19 2016

Prescribed fires planned for the Flathead

From the official press release . . .

Ranger Districts on the Flathead National Forest are planning to conduct multiple fall season prescribed fire projects, when weather, fuel conditions, and air quality is favorable. Burning is expected to start as early as September 16, and will continue through the close of open burning season on November 30, 2015. Smoke will be visible from various places in the Flathead Valley depending on the location of the burn units and weather conditions.

Each project follows a Prescribed Fire Burn Plan. The prescribed fire projects are located, designed and controlled to reduce the potential for adverse effects or escape as a wildland fire. These projects will be in compliance with Montana air quality standards and coordinated with Montana State Department of Environmental Quality to reduce the impacts of smoke to our neighbors, cooperators, and surrounding communities. The project areas include:
Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger Districts

  • Red Whale Creek Area – A 1114 acre project is planned in the Red Whale Creek drainage in the North Fork of the Flathead about four miles north of Polebridge. Depending on weather, this burn is planned for the next few weeks. The purpose of the project is to help restore a more historical fire regime to the ecosystem, improve wildlife habitat and reduce hazardous fuels to reduce wildfire risk and aid in potential future fire suppression efforts. In the same area about 31 acres of piles from logging slash will be burned.
  • Heinrude Fuels Project – This work involves burning about 22 acres of debris piles adjacent to Heinrude Creek and the West-side Hungry Horse Reservoir road near the Heinrude cabins.
  • Belton Fuels Project – This project includes the burning of about 15 acres of debris piles adjacent to private property in West Glacier and 176 acres of scattered debris piles between Coram and West Glacier.
  • Essex Area – Work involves the burning of several debris piles and logging slash in the Essex area.
  • Slippery Bill – Work involves the burning of several debris piles and logging slash.
  • Firefighter – Work involves the burning of several debris piles and logging slash.

Tally Lake Ranger District

  • Beaver Lake North Fuels Reduction Project – This project involves the burning of about 5 acres of debris piles adjacent to private property about five miles west of Whitefish.
  • Valley Face Fuels Reduction Project – Work involves the burning of about 69 acres of debris piles adjacent to private property about eight miles southwest of Whitefish along the Tally Lake Road.
  • Ashley Communications Site Project – Work involves the burning of about 4 acres of hand piles around the communications site.
  • Logan 200 Project – Work involves the burning of about 180 acres of hand piles at the north end of Tally Lake east of the campground.
  • Sharptail Project – Work involves the burning of about 17 acres of mechanical piles just off the Star Meadows road.
  • Ashley Lake Project – Work involves the burning of 76 acres of mechanical piles west of Ashley Lake.
  • Herrig Creek Project – Work involves the burning of 95 acres of mechanical piles 2.5 miles north of Little Bitterroot Lake.

Spotted Bear Ranger District

  • Horse Ridge – This project includes burning units along the ridge to the east the East Side Road and north of Spotted Bear complex.
  • Miscellaneous Piles – Piles around the district from a variety of projects will be burned.

Swan Lake Ranger District

  • Wild Cramer – This project includes broadcast and under burning in stands located within the Blacktail Mountain area west of Lakeside, MT. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, vegetation regeneration, and wildlife habitat improvement.
  • Condon Fuels – This project includes broadcast burning in timber stands located within the Condon Fuels project area around Condon, MT in the Swan Valley. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, vegetation regeneration, and wildlife habitat improvement.
  • Pile Burning – Hand or machine piles are located in several locations within the Swan Valley, Blacktail Mountain, Haskill Mountain and miscellaneous piles around the district as a result of but not limited to: logging, hazardous fuels reduction in the wildland urban interface, hazard tree removal, recreation site management and trail or road construction. These piles are burned to reduce fuel loads in these areas. These piles are strategically burned based on their location, access, and weather conditions.

For more information about these projects contact the appropriate Ranger Station:

  • Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger Districts: 406/387-3800
  • Tally Lake Ranger District: 406/758-5204
  • Spotted Bear Ranger District: 406-758-5376
  • Swan Lake Ranger District: 406/837-7500

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Sep 19 2016

Conservationists from around the globe gather in Glacier Park

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

St. Mary Lake

St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park

A world-wide assortment of conservationists met in Glacier Park . . .

What many European visitors to the United States encounter on their first trip to America, the woman from Croatia noted, is New York City.

One of the first things Maja Vasilijevic saw on her first trip to the U.S. was a little different than the bright lights and teeming crowds of Times Square. No, one of Vasilijevic’s first encounters with America included a large herd of bison thundering across a lonely stretch of U.S. Highway 2 on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

“It’s unique,” said Vasilijevic, who had never in her life seen one of the animals in person. “Not only the bison – the whole landscape.”

Read more . . .

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Sep 19 2016

Grizzly bear DNA database grows by the day

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Grizzly Bear - Thomas Lefebvre, via Unsplash

Grizzly Bear – Thomas Lefebvre, via Unsplash

Here’s a good article by Chris Peterson in the Hungry Horse News discussing how the use of DNA analysis in grizzly bear research is really hitting its stride . . .

This summer, grizzly bears have been confirmed in the Big Hole River Valley of Montana for the first time in the last 100 years.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear manager Kevin Frey said they do have hair samples from at least one grizzly from earlier this summer in the Big Hole and the state plans on having the samples analyzed to find out if biologists can track the origins of the bear.

The case is just another illustration of how far DNA analysis of bears has come in the past 25 years.

Read more . . .

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Sep 19 2016

Judge asked to restore cancelled energy lease in Badger-Two Medicine

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Badger-Two Medicine Region

Badger-Two Medicine Region

Solonex makes the next move in its court fight over cancelled oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine region . . .

A Louisiana energy company is asking a federal judge to reverse the cancellation of a 33-year-old oil and gas lease on land considered sacred to the Blackfoot tribes of the U.S. and Canada.

Solenex LLC of Baton Rouge filed court papers Monday seeking a judgment in the case that’s before U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington, D.C.

The 6,200-acre lease is in the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest. It’s just outside Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

Read more . . .

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Sep 19 2016

Coalition challenges Rock Creek Mine water permit

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby

Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby

An environmental coalition is challenging the DNRC water permit for the Rock Creek Mine, one of two proposed mines near the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness . . .

A coalition of environmental groups is challenging the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s proposed decision to issue a water permit to the company hoping to build a massive copper and silver mine near Noxon.

The coalition, including the Clark Fork Coalition, Rock Creek Alliance, Earthworks and the Montana Environmental Information Center, has alleged that the Hecla Mining Company’s Rock Creek Mine would dewater streams within the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. The nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice represents the groups.

The formal objection was filed with the DNRC on Sept. 6.

Read more . . .

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Sep 19 2016

Must see! 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

Curious Lions by Kym Ilman

Curious Lions by Kym Ilman

National Geographic is running their annual photography contest. I cannot post samples here but, trust me, you really want to go check them out. There are some truly spectacular photos among the submissions so far and the contest still has several weeks to run.

Twisted Sifter has some highlight photos on their site with links to more.

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Sep 15 2016

Debo Powers: The Wild Mind of God

Published by under Prose and Poetry

Mossy Stream - W. K. Walker

Mossy Stream – W. K. Walker

Debo Powers presented this poem at the “Wild Poems, Wild Stories, Wild Flathead” program held in Missoula on September 13 and in Whitefish on September 15 . . .

The Wild Mind of God

Trying to face the mind of God in a grove of trees,
I pause and listen.
My breath comes hard and ragged.
Sweat soaks my clothes from the long climb.

It is cool here
Sheltered from the glare of the hot western sun.
The wind swooshing through the branches overhead
The sounds of a creek as it runs over the toes of smooth boulders.

This is a cathedral
This cool dark spot
Dripping with moisture
Heavy with decay and new growth.

I fall to my knees in worship
And feel the soft furry moss against my skin
The wetness soaks into my socks
I breathe deeply in this quiet sacred place
Where creatures find refuge from the blistering heat.

I am not alone here.
Everywhere there are spirits.
An old elk who laid down here to die,
Torn and bleeding from the ravages of wolves and long winters.
A baby tanager that fell from a nest
And never rose again to try its wings.
A trout that was scooped out of its cold watery home
By the claws of a patient mountain lion.

We are all here
In this cathedral
On this mountainside
In the wild mind of God.

— Debo Powers

Inspired by the wildlands of the northern Whitefish Range
in the Flathead National Forest

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Sep 12 2016

Poetry and prose inspired by the Flathead Forest backcountry, Sep 15, in Whitefish

Published by under News

poetry-and-prose-inspired-by-the-flathead-forest-sep-15-2016Debo Powers, NFPA President, is presenting an original poem at the event in Whitefish. Look for it here, right after the event closes!

Celebrate the Wild Flathead! Join Montana Wilderness Association and Whitefish Review for an evening of poems and stories from the wild backcountry of the Flathead National Forest on Thursday, September 15 from 5:30 – 8pm at Bonsai Brewing Project in Whitefish. Local authors will share works that were inspired by the beauty of the places in our own wild backyard such as the Whitefish Range, the majestic Swan Range and the beloved Bob Marshall Wilderness. As we reminisce about another glorious summer on the trail, MWA encourages those who care about these areas to add their comments on the Flathead National Forest’s new management plan, which is currently being revised. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres will be provided and a FREE GIFT for new and current MWA members. This is a FREE event that is open to the public. Join us to listen, share, and protect the future of our wild legacy!

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