Aug 01 2015

Reminder: Future of Inside North Fork Road up for public review; deadline is Aug 3

Published by under News

Glacier Park has put the problem of the Inside North Fork Road up for public comment. It’s pretty evident that the park would rather not spend the money necessary to fully repair the damaged sections. So, if you want the road to remain open, take advantage of the public comment period to explain why.

Comments and concerns regarding the project can be submitted online at parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=61&projectID=59506&documentID=67096. Public comments must be submitted by August 3!

Here’s the official press release on the subject . . .

Glacier National Park is preparing an environmental assessment for the management of the inside North Fork Road and encouraging public comment by August 3. Public comments will help identify issues and alternatives to be considered and evaluated in the planning process.

The inside North Fork Road is located within the park. It is a seasonal gravel road approximately 40 miles in length. It begins near the south end of Lake McDonald continuing to Kintla Lake near the Canadian border. The road was constructed in 1901 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Currently, the road is open between the Fish Creek Campground and Camas Creek on the south end of the road, and between Polebridge and the Logging Creek Ranger Station on the north end of the road. Hikers and bikers may utilize the entirety of the inside North Fork Road. The middle section of the road is not open to motorized use due to road damage.

Since 2006 annual flooding has caused significant and recurring damage to the inside North Fork Road, particularly near the Anaconda Creek and Logging Creek areas. Another area of the road, near the North Fork of the Flathead River between Quartz Lake and Logging Creek, known as Lover’s Leap, is also an area of concern. The river is beginning to undercut this section of the road due to sloughing of the riverbank. Culvert additions and replacements along much of the road and new road base are needed in several locations.

In response, the park has brought in materials to mend damaged areas over the past several years. These fixes have been short-lived and resulted in deposition of road base and sediment into waterways, raising concern for fisheries and the health of riparian communities. In 2014, the park contracted an engineering firm to analyze options for road repairs at Anaconda and Logging Creeks, and Lover’s Leap. Cost estimates for these three repairs ranged from $682,000 to $735,000.

The park’s general management plan calls for preservation of the area’s wild character, with provision of only rustic visitor facilities. The road provides access to four primitive auto campgrounds and several trailheads. These few developments are surrounded by recommended wilderness.

Bull trout, a federally listed threatened species, and westslope cutthroat trout, a Montana State listed species of concern, utilize riparian habitat on and near the North Fork of the Flathead River, including federally designated critical habitat for bull trout. Road failures near Anaconda Bridge and Logging Creek are causing localized stream habitat degradation, with the potential to adversely impact bull trout critical habitat.

Given the repairs needed, associated costs, and ongoing maintenance requirements and resource concerns, the park is considering the overall future of the inside North Fork Road. An environmental assessment is being prepared for the management of the road. Objectives include developing a sustainable approach for maintenance and repair of the road, improving natural stream function in riparian areas, reducing adverse impacts on fisheries, and continuing to provide recreation opportunities in the North Fork area of the park.

A scoping brochure is available online, and comments and concerns regarding the project should be submitted online at parkplanning.nps.gov/InsideNorthForkRoad. Comments and concerns can also be mailed to Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: inside North Fork Road, PO Box 128, West Glacier, MT 59936. Comments should be submitted by August 3.

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Aug 01 2015

Smoke overhead coming from Central Washington fires

In case you’re wondering, that pall of smoke drifting through our area at a fairly high altitude is from fires in Central Washington State.

Here’s the overhead imagery showing the smoke plume:

Satellite view of smoke plume from Central Washington - morning of August 1, 2015

Satellite view of smoke plume from Central Washington – morning of August 1, 2015

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Aug 01 2015

Reynolds Creek Fire update for Saturday morning, August 1

Reynolds Creek Fire burning on July 31, 2015

Reynolds Creek Fire burning on July 31, 2015

Here’s the official word on the Reynolds Creek Fire as of about 7:30 am . . .

Facts at a Glance

Size: 3,342 acres Date Started: 07/21/2015 Percent Containment: 63%

Personnel Assigned: 520, including eight Interagency Hotshot crews, five 20-person hand crews, and other various personnel

Location: Approximately six miles east of Logan Pass, four miles west of St. Mary Visitor Center

Equipment Assigned: 12 engines, seven helicopters and multiple shared resources

Cooperating Agencies: Resources from Flathead National Forest, Glacier County, East Glacier, Babb, St. Mary, Cutbank, Evergreen, and West Valley Fire Departments, Blackfeet Fire Management, Montana Department of Natural Resources, Flathead County, as well as Glacier County and Montana Disaster & Emergency Services are assisting Glacier National Park.

Cause: Under investigation Structures Lost: 2 Cost: $7.25 Million

·A community meeting will be held at the St. Mary Lodge tonight, Saturday, August 1, 6-7 p.m.·

Today’s actions: A red flag warning continues for today’s high winds and low humidity. Fire activity has the potential to increase today due to these conditions. Fire should continue to burn actively into the rocks in Rose Creek and Two Dog drainages, located north of the fire’s northern perimeter. Crews are allowing these drainages to burn in order to reduce the amount of fuel in this region. Firefighters will monitor and suppress any spot fires outside fire containment lines.

Closures: The Rising Sun Motor Inn and the Rising Sun Campground remain closed. The Going-to-the-Sun Road remains closed from the St. Mary Campground to Logan Pass on the east side of the park. The road corridor continues to be a hazardous area: trees and rolling debris continued to stop firefighters from freely moving from one location to another; the fire burned actively adjacent to the road, burning through the previously unburned fuel; and smoke was dense throughout the stretch of road within the fire perimeter.

Openings: Going-to-the-Sun Road is open to Logan Pass from the west side of the park. Visitors should continue to expect delays and congestion along the road. The Red Eagle drainage is open for hiking access to Red Eagle Lake, Triple Divide, and the beaver ponds. The Sperry Trail is open from Lake McDonald Lodge to Gunsight Pass. Any travel beyond Gunsight Pass is closed due to fire activity. The Lake Ellen Wilson backcountry site is open.

Glacier National Park remains open, and excellent recreation opportunities abound. Information on current park activities can be found at: www.nps.gov/glac, Facebook.com/GlacierNPS, twitter.com/glaciernps, or flickr.com/photos/glaciernps. Additionally, current conditions can be viewed on park webcams at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm.

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Aug 01 2015

Wind fans Reynolds Creek Fire interior burn

Reynolds Creek Fire From Pull Out - July 31, 2015

Reynolds Creek Fire From Pull Out – July 31, 2015

Winds have the Reynolds Creek Fire burning more intensely, but it is still contained . . .

Heavy plumes of smoke towered above the east side of Glacier National Park on Friday afternoon as a patch of fuel burned within the Reynolds Creek Fire.

“It’s mostly burning in the interior, up in the Rose Creek area,” said Nan Stinson, a fire information officer. A spot in the northeastern corner fueled the increased burn. Stinson said that it was a pocket of vegetation up against some rocks.

Smoke rose into the sky and a portion of the plume could be seen from the Flathead Valley.

Read more . . .

Also read: What’s hot, what’s not, in Reynolds Creek Fire

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Jul 30 2015

Reynolds Creek Fire investigation team looking for information

Reynolds Creek Fire - Smoke Plume Above St. Mary Lake, July 25, 2015

Reynolds Creek Fire – Smoke Plume Above St. Mary Lake, July 25, 2015

Uh, oh. It appears the Reynolds Creek Fire was human caused. Here’s the rather terse official press release . . .

The National Park Service is seeking information that may assist with an investigation of the Reynolds Creek Fire in Glacier National Park.

Initial evidence suggests that the Reynolds Creek Fire was caused by human actions.

Park visitors that were hiking in the area of Reynolds Creek on the Gunsight Pass Trail or that may have been staying in or hiking through the Reynolds Creek Backcountry Campground, from July 14 to July 21, are encouraged to call 888-653-0009 or email nps_isb@nps.gov.

The fire was first reported at approximately 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21, approximately six miles east of Logan Pass. To date, it has burned approximately 3,200 acres.

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Jul 30 2015

Logan Pass open from west side; more good progress on Reynolds Creek Fire

As progress continues against the Reynolds Creek fire, Logan Pass re-opens for access from the west side of the park . . .

Access to Logan Pass is available to Glacier National Park visitors for the first time since the Reynolds Creek Fire sparked July 22, and as fire crews continue to gain ground on the blaze and shore up its northeast edge, officials have listed the fire at 56 percent contained.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road remains closed on the east side from just beyond the St. Mary Campground to Logan Pass, but beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday visitors could once again travel to the iconic corridor’s high point from the west side.

Visitors should expect delays and congestion along the road.

Read more . . .

See also: ‘By no means is all this black': Popular Glacier landmarks relatively unscathed by fire

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Jul 30 2015

Grizzly bear’s diet revealed by a single hair

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Forensic hair analysis comes to bear research . . .

U.S. and Canadian researchers have found they can get a good idea of a grizzly bear’s diet over several months by looking at a single hair. The technique, which measures residues of trace metals, can be a major tool in determining if the threatened animals are getting enough of the right foods to eat.

The technique can also help determine how much mercury bears are ingesting. A study published last year by many of the same researchers found that two out of three grizzlies sampled in coastal British Columbia had mercury levels exceeding a neurochemical effect threshold proposed for polar bears.

“You can use the technology for both applications,” said Marie Noël, lead author of both the mercury study and a more recent study, published in Science of the Total Environment, on how the technique works. “You can see how much mercury they’re getting but also estimate how much salmon they’re eating.”

Read more . . .

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Jul 28 2015

NFPA honors John Frederick for decades of service

Published by under News,Photos & Images

Debo Powers (the new NFPA President, by the way) wrote the following report on last Saturday’s NFPA annual meeting. Interspersed with her article are several pictures of the event submitted by myself and Debo. If you weren’t there …well, you should have been. Everyone had a good time.

On Saturday night, John Frederick stepped down as President of the North Fork Preservation Association (NFPA) after more than three decades of leadership in this environmental organization which was founded in 1982. Following a potluck supper, a crown which said “North Fork Hero” was placed on John’s head.  The crowd of around 50 people listened while various NFPA members spoke about John’s contributions to the North Fork, told stories about John, and read email appreciations from other members who could not attend.  John was also given a plaque by the NFPA.

John has been an “environmental warrior” on many issues that have threatened the North Fork in the past three decades.  One of his major feats was buying ten shares of Rio Algom (a Canadian mining company) stock and traveling six times to stockholder meetings in Toronto to speak in opposition to the proposal to build a coal mine north of the border that would threaten the water quality of the North Fork of the Flathead River.  That coal mine was never built.  This was one of the many stories told about John’s activism.

John suffers through lots of people saying nice things about him

John suffers through lots of people saying nice things about him

Frank Vitale says his piece

Frank Vitale says his piece

John receives his plaque

John receives his plaque

After John’s “appreciation fest,” there was a short NFPA meeting in which officers and board members were elected.   The new officers are:  Debo Powers (President), Randy Kenyon (Vice President), Suzanne Daniell (Secretary), and Kelly Edwards (Treasurer).  Annemarie Harrod and Steve Gniadek were re-elected to the board and John Frederick will remain on the board as the Past President.  Those who will remain on the board for another year are Frank Vitale, Cameron Naficy, Alan McNeil, and Walter Roberts.

Every year following the annual NFPA meeting, there is an informative speaker who is invited to talk about a topic of local interest.  This presentation is open to the entire North Fork community, so others began to arrive after the meeting.  The NFPA speaker this year was Daniel Stiffarm, a Kootenai tribal member who is the acting director of the Kootenai Cultural Committee on the Flathead Reservation. He spoke about Kootenai history, culture, and language.   Daniel comes regularly to the North Fork which was part of the Kootenai Territory that was used for hunting and vision quests.  North Forkers learned much about Kootenai language and traditions including the Kootenai names of many familiar mountains in the North Fork.  Daniel was asked many questions which he graciously answered.

Daniel Stiffarm giving his presentation

Daniel Stiffarm giving his presentation

Daniel Stiffarm drew a big crowd

Daniel Stiffarm drew a big crowd

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Jul 26 2015

Spotted Knapweed Biocontrol Workshop Aug 21

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Montana Land Reliance is sponsoring a spotted knapweed biocontrol workshop at the Flathead Valley Community College Arts and Technology Building on August 21 from 1-6 pm. Please register in advance. Contact Mark at 406-837-2178 or mark@mtlandreliance.org.

See the following poster for details . . .

MLR Spotted Knapweed Biocontrol Workshop Aug 21 2015

MLR Spotted Knapweed Biocontrol Workshop Aug 21 2015

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Jul 26 2015

St. Mary Visitor Center in Glacier National Park to reopen Monday

Glacier National Park
News Release
July 26, 2015 5:00 p.m.

For immediate release: We apologize for conflicting information earlier today.

Fire officials have assessed current fire behavior and suppression activity in the Reynolds Creek Fire and announced that the St. Mary Visitor Center at the east entrance to Glacier National Park can reopen on Monday July 27. Hours are from 8 am to 6 pm.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road will remain closed from the St. Mary Visitor Center to Big Bend on the west side of the Divide, a distance of 18 miles. The St. Mary Campground, the Rising Sun Motor Inn, the Rising Sun Campground and Logan Pass are not yet open to the public.

Glacier National Park remains open; excellent recreation and access opportunities abound. For information on current park activities, visit www.nps.gov/glac, Facebook.com/GlacierNPS, twitter.com/glaciernps, or flickr.com/photos/glaciernps. Additionally, current conditions can be viewed on park webcams at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm.

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