Sep 23 2014

Rally to protect public lands this Saturday

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Keep Public Land in Public Hands

Keep Public Land in Public Hands

Reminder: As we mentioned here earlier, there is a rally at noon this Saturday, September 27, in Helena to protect access to public lands. The immediate trigger for this event is a movement within Montana to give up federal lands to state control. Such a move would mean a sharp increase in the state bureaucracy, a hefty bump in the tax burden and, more  than likely, lead to much of the land being sold off to private interests to help finance the whole mess. Everyone from traditional hunting and fishing groups, to motorized recreation outfits to old-line enviros is pretty wound up about this.

For more information, see the National Public Lands Day Rally Facebook page.

Here are two useful and informative links. Both are recommended reading . . .

Ben Lamb of the Hellgate Hunters and Anglers posted an excellent call to action titled This Land is Your Land.

Earlier this month, the Billings Gazette wrote an excellent, well-reasoned editorial: Putting the rhetoric to the test. This piece includes links to supporting material.

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Sep 14 2014

Crown of the Continent Conference in Waterton Lakes National Park

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Waterton Lake after snow storm

Waterton Lake after snow storm

Debo Powers sent in this report on the recent Crown of the Continent Roundtable. Thanks, Debo! . . .

On September 5-7, three NFPA board members (John Frederick, Annemarie Harrod, and Debo Powers) attended the 5th annual Crown of the Continent (CoC) Conference, which was held in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada this year. The conference began with a snow storm that covered Waterton with more than a foot of snow. When the sun appeared on Thursday morning, the surrounding mountains showed the beauty and majesty of the Crown at its best.   The CoC Conference brings together a diverse group of people who live and work in the Crown on both sides of the Border to connect with each other and discuss issues facing the Crown.

One highlight was the pre-conference Tribal/First Nations Roundtable to discuss perspectives and initiatives on Tribal lands. All of the presenters and speakers were indigenous people, but observers were welcome to listen and learn.

The organizing theme of this conference was “A Balancing Act.” The conference explored how our businesses, cultures, and communities are taking forward-looking actions to balance values in the face of changing economic, demographic, political, and climatic conditions. During the conference, there were numerous presentations and discussions on a variety of topics. Another highlight of the conference was small group discussions on weeds and invasives management, watershed monitoring and management, geotourism, and forest management practices. Doug Chadwick added his insights and humor during the Thursday dinner presentation where he showed pictures from the new publication “Crown of the Continent: The Wildest Rockies.”

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Sep 12 2014

Federal lynx protection added in New Mexico, but new habitat expansions denied

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Another federal decision that will leave everyone grumbling . . .

Canada lynx gained federal protections in New Mexico on Thursday, but U.S. wildlife officials again declined to designate critical habitat for the elusive animal in the Southern Rockies, parts of New England and other areas considered non-essential to their survival.

The two-part finding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service means the forest-dwelling wild cat will be protected as threatened throughout the lower 48 states. Lynx that had spread to New Mexico’s San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountains after being introduced in Colorado previously were not protected.

However, officials decided that potential lynx habitat in the Southern Rockies of New Mexico, Colorado and portions of Wyoming were not areas essential to conservation of the species. As a result, lynx in the region still will be protected from hunting and trapping, but there will be less stringent reviews of human activities that could affect the dense forests they need to survive…

Also left out of the 39,000 square miles of designated critical habitat were portions or all of six national forests in Idaho and Montana, and areas with lynx in northern Vermont and northern New Hampshire.

Read more . . .

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Sep 12 2014

Montana’s wolves not ‘transplants’

Published by under Commentary,Environmental Issues

Steve Gniadek recently submitted the following letter to the Flathead Beacon . . .

The article on the proposed wolf management stamp (Beacon, Aug 20) was succinct and generally accurate.  However, one important omission contributed to what I referred to in my comments at the hearing as a raging ignorance among some segments of the public.  The article states correctly that “wolves were introduced back into Yellowstone National Park and the central Idaho wilderness in 1995 and 1996 . . .”.   By omitting the fact that wolves naturally recolonized Northwest Montana, readers may conclude that wolves in this area are from those reintroductions.  In reality, after an absence of 50 years, wolves from Canadian populations began expanding into Northwest Montana more than 30 years ago.  They were not relocated here.

Right before the 2010 election I attended a forum on wolves at Flathead Valley Community College sponsored by Montanans for Multiple Use.  A biologist from the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department was scheduled to appear on the panel, but was prohibited from participating due to legal wrangling over the wolf hunt.  Thus, there was no one on the panel who could provide an objective view of wolf biology and management, and ignorance ran rampant.  Panelists and audience members repeatedly complained that wolves were transplanted to Montana by the feds, ignoring the fact that wolves in our area came in on their own and were not transplanted.  This was only one of numerous distortions bandied about at the forum.

Present at the forum were most if not all the local Republican candidates, who tried to outdo one another in their support for the misinformation dispensed by the crowd.  In a democracy, we should expect our political representatives to help educate their constituents rather than reinforce ignorance and prejudice.  We should expect the same from our media sources.

Steve Gniadek

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Sep 12 2014

U.S. FWS awards $2M for easement on grizzly & lynx habitat on Stoltze land

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

This short write-up on the acquisition of a conservation easement on F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber land belies a great deal of behind the scenes work over the past few years . . .

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded the state of Montana $2 million to aid in the acquisition of a conservation easement on Haskill Basin near Whitefish.

The 3,000-acre-plus property, located next to Whitefish Mountain Resort, is the source of 75 percent of Whitefish’s municipal water supply and vital habitat for grizzly bears and Canada lynx.

F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber Co. owns the property.

Read more . . .

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Sep 10 2014

Rally to protect public lands from privatization

Legislatures, both state and federal, have a long history of giving serious consideration to bad ideas. The latest in the list as far as Montana is concerned is the movement to demand that federal lands be turned over to state control. The states, in turn, would auction management of these lands off to private control.

Yep, that’s right. They’re talking about privatizing your public lands. Someone has been smoking that wacky terbaccy, I guess.

There are several things you can do about this.

  • Get hold of your local state senator and representative and explain that you really don’t like the idea of giving away to private ownership the lands where you work and recreate.
  • Read John Gatchell’s excellent “Public Lands in Private Hands?” article. Follow the links and instructions he provides to comment on the spurious land privatization “study” the legislature has posted for public comment. The deadline for comments is September 16.
  • The Montana Wilderness Association (who has really taken the point on this land privatization issue), along with a bunch of other organizations, is holding a rally in Helena on September 27, which just happens to be both National Public Lands Day and National Hunting and Fishing Day. Show up and help folks explain to our legislature that giving away our public lands to private concerns is a Really Bad Idea. For more information, see the National Public Lands Day Rally Facebook page.

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Aug 10 2014

North Fork Compact annual meeting Aug 11, 8pm

Published by under News

The North Fork Compact was the first serious effort, dating back to the 60’s,  to deal with issues of excessive commercial development and subdivision on the North Fork.

Their annual meeting will be held Monday, August 11, 8:00 p.m., at Sondreson Hall.

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Aug 05 2014

‘Hay Creek Complex’ fires winding down; handed off to local personnel

The Forest Service issued their last press release on the “Hay Creek Complex” wildfires today, handing off control to local personnel . . .

On 8/5/14 at 8:00 PM, the Hay Creek Complex will be turned over to the Glacier View/Hungry Horse Ranger District managers who will continue with any patrol. Any questions or concerns, please contact the Flathead National Forest GVHH District Office in Hungry Horse at (406) 387-3867.

Read the complete press release for more details.

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Aug 04 2014

Monday update: Hay Creek Complex wildfires

Here’s the latest report from the Forest Service concerning the Hay Creek Complex fires on the North Fork. It was posted at about 1:00 p.m. on Monday, August 4. See the related Inciweb page for further details . . .

Incident Overview

SUMMARY: Multiple fires have started on the Glacier View Ranger District following a series of lightning storms over the five preceding days. A total of 12 fires have started, with 5 current fires, and 7 have been contained and controlled. The fires are being managed as a fire complex. The fires had burned in heavy timber, in steep, rough terrain. The fire behavior is small smokes in some of the duff on the forest floor. The fire complex consists of a total of 23 acres, with approximately 50% contained. Multiple resources are assigned to the fire including four 20-man crews, 3 helicopters, one Type 6 engine crew, and a local Type 3 management team, for a total of approximately 123 people. These resources are being shared across all the fires in this area. There are no area or trail closures at this time.

Yesterday, the fire area had multiple lightning storms pass over, but no new fires were started. Today, fire fighters will continue with mop up and patrol of the two larger fires, Akinkoka and Hay Creek Fires. Fire fighters and helicopters not needed will be demobilzed and made available for other fires in the region.

SPECIAL MESSSAGE: A helibase is set up at Moran Meadows area. These helicopters are shuttling personnel and supplies to and from the fires, as well as providing water drops on the fire. FOR THE YOUR SAFETY AND THE FIRE FIGHTERS SAFETY, PLEASE DO NOT STOP ON THE ROAD WAY OR WALK OUT ON TO THE HELIBASE.

 

Basic Information

Current as of 8/4/2014, 12:25:33 PM
Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Lightning
Date of Origin Tuesday July 29th, 2014 approx. 05:00 PM
Location Various locations east of Whitefish Divide and west of the North Fork of the Flathead River.
Incident Commander Justin Kaber, Flathead National Forest

 

Current Situation

Total Personnel 123
Size 23 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained 50%
Fuels Involved Heavy timber, in steep, rough terrain.

 

Outlook

Planned Actions Continue with mop up and patrolling of the two remaining fires, Akinkoka and Hay Creek Fires. Demobilize the fire fighters and helicopters not needed.
Projected Incident Activity Continue with mop up and patrolling of the two remaining fires, Akinkoka and Hay Creek Fires. Demobilize the fire fighters and helicopters not needed.

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Aug 03 2014

Sunday morning update: Hay Creek Complex wildfires

Here’s the latest report from the Forest Service concerning the Hay Creek Complex fires on the North Fork. See the related Inciweb page for further details . . .

Incident Overview

SUMMARY: Multiple fires have started on the Glacier View Ranger District following a series of lightning storms over the five preceding days. A total of 12 fires have started, with 8 current fires, and 4 have been contained and controlled. The fires are being managed as a fire complex. The fires are burning in heavy timber, in steep, rough terrain. The fire behavior is single and group tree torching with occasional spotting. The fire complex consists of a total of 19 acres, with approximately 20% contained. Multiple resources are assigned to the fire including five 20-man crews, 3 helicopters, one Type 6 engine crew, and a local Type 3 management team, for a total of approximately 143 people. These resources are being shared across all the fires in this area. There are no area or trail closures at this time.

Yesterday, the fire area had multiple lightning storms pass over, and 6 new fires started from lightning, in addition to the 3 existing fires. All of the new fires were initial attacked with full suppression strategy. Today, fire fighters will continue with suppression strategy for the fires and continue to be prepared for initial attack on any new fire starts. None of the fires received over night rain that other areas experienced.

SPECIAL MESSAGE: A helibase is set up at Moran Meadows area. These helicopters are shuttling personnel and supplies to and from the fires, as well as providing water drops on the fire. FOR THE YOUR SAFETY AND THE FIRE FIGHTERS SAFETY, PLEASE DO NOT STOP ON THE ROAD WAY OR WALK OUT ON TO THE HELIBASE.

New Start Fires

Link Lake 1 Size: 0.1 acres Location: Lat. 48° 45.822 Long. 114° 34.290 Status: Staffed with 2 fire fighters.

Link Lake 2Size: 0.1 acres Location: Lat. 48° 45.822 Long. 114° 34.134 Status: Staffed with 3 fire fighters.

Mt Young 1Size: 0.25 acres Location: Lat. 48° 48.096 Long. 114° 37.860 Status: Not staffed, but received intense water drops from helicopters.

Mt Young 2Size: 0.25 acres Location: Lat. 48° 47.646 Long. 114° 39.498 Status: Staffed with 8 fire fighters.

StonySize: 0.25 acres Location: Lat. 48° 47.556 Long. 114° 34.218 Status: Staffed with 2 fire fighters.

Antley CreekSize: 0.1 acres Location: Lat. 48° 54.852 Long. 114° 34.410 Status: Contained and controlled.

 

Akinkoka, Hay Creek, and Mathias Fires

UPDATE: On all of the fires, fire line has been fully constructed, and mop up work is continuing which is very difficult due to steep, rough terrain. Some fire fighters have been released from these fires in order to staff new start fires in the area.

 

Basic Information

Current as of 8/3/2014, 9:48:29 AM
Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Lightning
Date of Origin Tuesday July 29th, 2014 approx. 05:00 PM
Location Various locations east of Whitefish Divide and west of the North Fork of the Flathead River.
Incident Commander Justin Kaber, Flathead National Forest

Current Situation

Total Personnel 145
Size 19 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained 20%
Fuels Involved Heavy timber, in steep, rough terrain.

Outlook

Planned Actions Full suppression tactics with fire fighters and helicopters working on the fires.
Projected Incident Activity Full suppression tactics with fire fighters and helicopters working on the fires.

 

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