Category Archives: News

Diane Boyd, the Jane Goodall of wolves

Diane Boyd, Lone Pine State Park, Feb. 13, 2017 - Greg Lindstrom, Flathead Beacon
Diane Boyd, Lone Pine State Park, Feb. 13, 2017 – Greg Lindstrom, Flathead Beacon

Wow! North Forker and NFPA member Diane Boyd has a very nice write-up in the Flathead Beacon titled “The Jane Goodall of Wolves” . . .

In 1979, Diane Boyd left her native Minnesota and headed west to begin tracking the first radio-collared gray wolf from Canada to recolonize the Western U.S., where humans had effectively eliminated the species by the 1930s through hunting, poisoning and habitat loss. Boyd, a 24-year-old wildlife biology graduate student at University of Montana, was fueled by optimistic idealism and boundless energy. When she pulled up to her new home, deep in northwestern Montana’s rugged North Fork Flathead River valley, it was apparent she would need both.

“It was like, ‘Wow,’” Boyd recalls of seeing the cabin, which had no plumbing, electricity or means of communicating with the outside world. “I’d spent a lot of time outdoors, but this was true isolation.”

Though wolves had been extirpated statewide, reports of sightings and shootings started trickling in during the 1960s and ‘70s, leading University of Montana professor Bob Ream to launch the Wolf Ecology Project in 1973, the same year that Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves were listed under the Endangered Species Act. It was through the Wolf Ecology Project that researcher Joe Smith trapped a female wolf, dubbed Kishinena, on April 4, 1979 in the North Fork drainage along the northwestern edge of Glacier National Park.

Read more . . .

Steve Gniadek receives Conservation Achievement Recognition award

Steve Gniadek in “the Bob”, July 30, 2014
Steve Gniadek in “the Bob”, July 30, 2014

NFPA member Steve Gniadek received a well-deserved Conservation Achievement Recognition award from the Flathead Audubon Society recently. There’s a nice write-up on their web site, where you’ll likely learn some things about Steve you never knew . . .

We are excited to present our first 2017 Conservation Achievement Recognition to Steve Gniadek who is clearly one of the most dedicated conservation-minded people in the Flathead. Steve, who has assimilated extensive and diverse wildlife experiences throughout his career, is now a happily retired wildlife biologist living in the Flathead Valley. But Steve is no ordinary retiree, he is one of those passionate and committed individuals who believes that his fortunate and exciting life of public service requires that he continue to give back his time and energy to the local community.

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“Era of Megafires” presentation, April 25, 6:00pm

Era of Megfires poster
Era of Megfires poster

From the official press release . . .

Wildfire plays an important and integral role in our forested ecosystems. Local fire history records show that our forests have evolved with fire for thousands of years. We have successfully suppressed 98% of wildfires in the greater Flathead Area since approximately 1930, and the resulting accumulation of fuel creates an environment conducive to large fire growth. It’s important for our community to understand wildfire and promote a proactive approach to mitigating impacts to our communities; private property, airshed, watersheds and forest ecosystems.

On April 25th, the community is invited to a public event and conversation at the Flathead Valley Community College, Arts and Technology Building Room 139 at 6:00 p.m., for an “Era of Megafires” presentation. This 70-minute multi-media traveling presentation by Dr. Paul Hessburg, will help our community understand the issues surrounding Megafires, so collectively we can move toward solutions that can change the way we receive wildfire and related smoke. Dr. Hessburg has conducted fire and landscape ecology research for more than 27 years.

The “Era of Megafires” presentation will be followed by a question and answer session around topics that are relevant to the community in order to identify local challenges and local actions. Typically, different communities face different obstacles when it comes to wildfire preparedness and resilience.

The intent of this presentation is to significantly reduce the amount of loss we are experiencing by developing a collective understanding of fire, approaches to wildfire management, and how landowners can engage.

The “Era of Megafires” is brought to you by Flathead Area FireSafe Council, Northern Rockies Fire Science Network; Southwestern Crown Collaborative, Montana DNRC/Kalispell Unit; Flathead National Forest, Flathead Valley Community College and FireSafe Montana. For more information, contact Mike West, Flathead National Forest at 758-3939, or Ali Ulwelling, MT DNRC at 751-2270.

‘Walking Bear Comes Home: The life and work of Chuck Jonkel’ premiers on April 20

From the Great Bear Foundation web site . . .

Chuck Jonkel film image
Chuck Jonkel film image

Walking Bear Comes Home: The life and work of Chuck JonkelA production of the Great Bear Foundation and Caribou Crossing

World premiere screening April 20th, 2017 at 5:00 PM
40th International Wildlife Film Festival
Roxy Theater, Missoula, Montana

Please join us for a reception to honor Dr. Jonkel at: 400 PM at the Roxy, followed by the screening at 5:00. After the film, we’ll celebrate with the launch of Great Bear Cider at Western Cider from 7:00-9:00, with 10% of the proceeds benefiting the Great Bear Foundation.

For more information, including how to order the DVD, go to the “Projects” page at the Great Bear Foundation web site and click on “Documentary Film on Charles Jonkel.”

Glacier to lift restrictions on hand-propelled boats with invasive species inspections this season

Zebra mussels
Zebra mussels – via Wikipedia

Glacier Park has decided to allow small, hand-propelled watercraft on their lakes this season, as long as they are inspected for invasive mussels. Anything with a motor or big enough to require a trailer, is prohibited while the park further evaluates the danger posed by invasive mussel species.

Possibly in response to some points raised at last month’s Interlocal Meeting, “local users who live in more remote locations” (i.e., North Forkers) can get their equipment inspected at the “nearest ranger station.”

Here is the full press release, including a useful Q&A section. It’s followed by a link to a good summary article in the Hungry Horse News . . .

Date: March 16, 2017
Contact: Office of the Superintendent, 406-888-7901

WEST GLACIER, MT. – Glacier National Park announced today that hand-propelled, non-trailered watercraft including kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards will be permitted in the park with mandatory inspection beginning May 15 for Lake McDonald and the North Fork and June 1, 2017 for all remaining areas of the park. Last November, park waters were closed to all boating as a precaution after invasive species of non-native mussels were detected in two popular Montana reservoirs east of the park.

Hand-powered boat users will be required to have their craft certified mussel-free (“clean, drained, and dry”) by Glacier staff under a new inspection program with stations in four popular locations in the park. (Local users who live in more remote locations will be directed to the nearest ranger station for inspection.) This is a change from last season, when hand-propelled watercraft required visitors to complete an AIS-free self-certification form before launching into Glacier’s lakes.

Privately owned motorized and trailered watercraft brought into the park will not be allowed to operate on Glacier’s waters this summer while a comprehensive assessment of the threat from mussels is underway. Among other measures, this will include comprehensive testing of waters in the park and elsewhere in Montana for the presence of quagga and zebra mussels. These non-native mollusks reproduce quickly and can wreak havoc with lake environments, water quality, native wildlife, lake infrastructure, and cause significant economic harm to infested regions.

Continue reading Glacier to lift restrictions on hand-propelled boats with invasive species inspections this season

Columbia River watershed is last refuge from invasive mussels

Zebra Mussel Shells Cover a Lake Michigan Limestone Beach in Door County Wisconsin - PJ Bruno
Zebra Mussel Shells Cover a Lake Michigan Limestone Beach in Door County Wisconsin – PJ Bruno

Here’s a scary wake-up call regarding invasive mussels . . .

They don’t look like much, but it’s hard to overstate the threat posed by aquatic invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels to Montana’s public waterways – and all the waterways downstream in other states. “It’s terrifying,” explained Heidi Sedivy, the program manager for the Flathead Basin Protection Fund.

During an informational talk at the nonprofit Clark Fork Coalition Wednesday, Sedivy said the Columbia River watershed is the last watershed in the lower 48 states that is currently free from nonnative zebra and quagga mussels, which originated in Eastern Europe.

Western Montana represents the headwaters of the Columbia watershed, and alarm bells all over the state were raised when mussels were detected in the Tiber Reservoir in north-central Montana late last year – meaning the entire Missouri River watershed is essentially doomed.

Read more . . .

Board of review: Mountain bike collision caused Coram area death

The Missoulian has an excellent story on the board of review findings concerning last summer’s mountain biker fatality. It includes links to the actual report document, as well as to the board’s recommendations for alleviating future biking-bear encounters . . .

An analysis of the fatal collision last summer between a grizzly bear and a mountain biker near Coram recommends more safety evaluation before new biking trails are built in grizzly habitat.

“Current safety messaging at trailheads and in the media is usually aimed at hikers,” the interagency board of review report stated. “However mountain biking is in many ways more likely to result in injury or death from bear attacks to people who participate in this activity.

“In addition, there are increasing numbers of mountain bikers using bear habitat and pressure to increase mountain bike access to areas where black bear and grizzly bear encounters are very likely.”

Read more . . .

Proposed Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act draws critics, supporters

The Swan Range - Lee Boman
The Swan Range – Lee Boman

The Missoulian’s Rob Chaney posted a good overview of the issues and debates surrounding Senator Jon Tester’s new wilderness bill, the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. The article includes links to supporting documents . . .

A week after Sen. Jon Tester released his Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act, some wilderness advocates question what it might really do.

Now designated as S. 507, the bill resurrects a portion of Tester’s 8-year-old Forest Jobs and Recreation Act affecting the southwest corner of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. That bill ran into opposition from some environmentalists and U.S. Forest Service officials who objected to the way it mandated commercial work in the forests.

The new bill has raised eyebrows for the compromises it’s made with mountain biking groups.

Read more . . .

The fate of the Flathead

Zebra Mussel Shells Cover a Lake Michigan Limestone Beach in Door County Wisconsin - PJ Bruno
Zebra Mussel Shells Cover a Lake Michigan Limestone Beach in Door County Wisconsin – PJ Bruno

Thompson Smith, chair of the Flathead Basin Commission, has an excellent op-ed in the Flathead Beacon discussing the importance of aggressive efforts to block further spread of invasive mussels throughout Montana’s waters . . .

In early November, state officials announced the first documented presence of zebra and quagga mussels in Montana, after positive tests at sites in the Missouri River system.

For the Flathead Basin, these devastating invasive species are now at our doorstep: just a few hours away for people hauling boats from Tiber Reservoir.

In coming days, our ability to protect Montana’s remaining non-infested waters will be determined by the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) legislation and rule-making now being finalized in Helena. What is emerging appears to be a far more robust AIS program, and it should be passed. But the devil is in the details. Experts point to a number of deficiencies that must be addressed.

First, it is important to understand that if invasive mussels do become established here, they would ravage both the aquatic environment and the economy. Tiny, razor-sharp shells would coat and clog every hard surface — rocks, boats, pipes, docks, dams. They could ultimately cause the collapse of native fisheries, a vital cultural resource and linchpin of the recreation industry. They would wreak havoc with irrigation systems, power facilities, and municipal water supply and treatment.

Once established, invasive mussels are virtually impossible to remove. The whole game is prevention.

Continue reading The fate of the Flathead

Montana recognizes National Invasive Species Awareness Week

From a Montana Mussel Response press release . . .

Zebra mussels
Zebra mussels – via Wikipedia

National Invasive Species Awareness Week comes at a unique time for Montana, as Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation continue their joint efforts to implement a plan to fight aquatic invasive mussels.

“We take the fight against invasive species in Montana very seriously and continue to be vigilant in addressing threats to Montana’s critical infrastructure, economy and recreational way of life,” said Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

NISAW runs from Feb. 27 through March 3 to raise awareness and identify solutions for invasive species at the local level. The Montana Invasive Species Advisory Council encourages Montanans to participate in local events and offers ways you can help observe.

Continue reading Montana recognizes National Invasive Species Awareness Week