2021 edition of North Fork Bear News available online

Grizzly bear strolling along a roadThe North Fork Bear News is back! Many of you should have received the 2021 edition in the mail, but it is now also available online.

Editor Julie Zeigler’s introduction tells the story . . .

We’re back! The North Fork Bear News was an annual newsletter that Amy Secrest, with layout assistance from Richard Wackrow, created and thoughtfully published from 2000-2005. A big shout out and thanks to the both of them for all their work! I have humbly taken up the mantle, and with support from the North Fork Preservation Association, plan to resume a yearly spring mailing to any and all North Forkers who would like to receive it. I would like to encourage any feedback you may have on this issue, but even more so any suggestions for content you would like to see in the future (my contact info can be found on page 6). It is our hope that this newsletter be educational, interesting, and inspiring; not only a way to stay informed on the wildlife that we are lucky enough to cohabit alongside, but also to celebrate the ways that we are all connected to each other as the North Fork community.

View/download the 2021 North Fork Bear News (PDF, 5.68MB)

“Living with Wildlife” available online

A grizzly and her cubs roam the wilds of Montana - Montana FWP

The 2021 edition of the NFPA’s “Living with Wildlife” brochure is available online. This publication, authored by wildlife biologist and researcher Diane Boyd and published by the NFPA, is highly recommended reading for anyone who lives near or interacts with our abundant local wildlife!

From the introduction:

The meadows, mountains and rivers of the North Fork are home to wildlife as well as humans who live and recreate in these areas. This interface can lead to conflict in which the wildlife usually loses. While private lands make up only 3% of the North Fork valley, they offer some of the best wildlife habitat. This brochure offers suggestions on how we can better coexist with our wildlife.

View/download “Living with Wildlife” here. (PDF format, 400KB)

Forest Service posts Special Use permit details; deadline for comments is May 12

Heads up! It is Forest Service special use permit time again. Some of you may recall the kerfuffle over this last year, particularly when it came to guided ATV tours. There are a few more requests this year. There is a May 12 deadline for responses.

View/download the official press release.

Details on the various projects and information on how to submit concerns can be found at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/flathead/passes-permits/event-commercial/?cid=fseprd903970&width=full

Here is an extract from a very useful note sent by Rob Davies, Hungry Horse/Glacier View District Ranger, that provides more focus on the projects affecting the North Fork . . .

This is a fairly large list of proposals for this summer. We are at the start of an open public comment period. Comment period closes May 12th. No decisions have been made at this point and we are seeking comments and concerns. This is being released to the local media today. Maps and descriptions have been posted on our web site.

The proposed Recreation Events and proposed guiding that would affect the North Fork area are:

Adventure Cycling Tours
Bike Adventure Bike tours
MT Academy
Pancake Ride bicycle event
Spotted Dog Guided bike tours
Snow Bike Nation (e-bikes)
Whitefish Shuttle

Other than potential e-bike guiding on open FS motorized roads, and van shuttles (Whitefish Shuttle) delivering people to trail heads or just providing van tours, there are no motorized activities proposed such as UTV/ATV guiding in the North Fork.

Thank you for your interest and please respond through the official process outlined on our web site if you have concerns.

Thanks
Rob

Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission to decide on restricting motorized boats on Tepee Lake

Tepee Lake
Tepee Lake

A decision on motorized boating on Tepee lake is due Thursday . . .

A final decision on restricting motorized boats on Tepee Lake in the North Fork area is among the top agenda items the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission will consider Thursday during an online meeting using the video conferencing platform Zoom.

According to a previous story in the Hungry Horse News, a group of landowners and stakeholders recently formally petitioned the commission to restrict the remote and fishless lake in the North Fork of the Flathead to manually powered boats only.

While there have been no conflicts to date, petitioners asked the commission to ban motorized use on the 43-acre lake. Tepee Lake is a small lake, which doesn’t support fish because of a lack of oxygen, but it does support a robust population of leeches, which the resident loons use, in part, to feed their young.

Read more . . .

Spring Greetings!

Flannery Coats Bio PhotoAnd all of a sudden, the robins are chirping from branches and geese are flying overhead at dusk. Happy Spring fellow North Fork fanatics. Although winter was seemingly short and forgiving, a lot happened even with the lack of hibernation motivation. And so, a winter report from your newly elected President.

First and foremost, one of our most cherished conservation colleagues, Dave Hadden of Headwaters Montana, retired, and in celebration of his lifetime achievements the NFPA Board awarded him with the Jack Potter Glacier National Park Stewardship Award. Just like all things wild, this award came full circle for Dave who has promoted local stewardship by giving away this award to hardworking colleagues for the last decade. The collaborative transboundary work Dave accomplished in his time at Headwaters Montana has perpetuated the historic watershed successes of the North Fork and for that, we are eternally grateful. As many of you know, the Headwaters Board decided to disband the organization with Dave’s retirement. NFPA is proud to be chosen to administer Headwaters scholarship funds going forward.

Our committed Board has been working hard over the winter with other local organizations to begin to address the tsunami of recreationists with the attendant negative local impacts now referred to as “Summergeddon”. Our outreach committee is working on educational resources for new landowners. A “Living with Wildlife” brochure will be distributed to the greater North Fork mailing list in collaboration with the NFLA. Bear News is being resurrected and out for print this Spring as well. We have booked an exceptional speaker for our annual meeting in July; look for more details in a future communication.

Be sure to visit our website, www.gravel.org, or our Facebook page for current news. Of most recent interest is the Interlocal meeting that you can watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XRwoVEcbkU. Park management and road maintenance plans were of particular interest.

Hopefully, the thaw is kind and quick for all of you. Looking forward to a great summer.

Flannery Coats

2021 Winter Interlocal, March 4, 9am, on Zoom

The 2021 winter North Fork Interlocal Agreement meeting will be held Thursday, March 4 at 9:00 a.m. The meeting usually lasts abut three hours. Due to the the ongoing pandemic, it will be a virtual meeting using the Zoom conferencing software.

The Interlocal Agreement provides for face-to-face contact (usually!) with representatives of agencies whose policies and actions affect the North Fork. Interlocal Agreement meetings are held in the winter (in town) and summer (at Sondreson Hall). Agency attendees include Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Montana Department of State Lands, U.S. Border Patrol, Glacier National Park, Flathead National Forest, U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service and Flathead County.

This is always a very interesting meeting, with reports from a range of government agencies and local organizations and often some quite vigorous discussion.

Headwaters Montana Closes

Headwaters Montana Logo


Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 10, 2020
Contact:  Dave Hadden, Director, 406-270-3184/ info@headwatersmontana.org

Local Conservation Organization Closes
Establishes Wilderness Scholarship Fund and
Donates to Bigfork and Columbia Falls Conservation Projects

Local conservation organization Headwaters Montana will close its doors at the end of December after some 13 years of work in the Flathead and Kootenai regions advocating for wildlife and wilderness in land management decisions.

The Headwaters board voted in June to close the organization citing funding and other circumstances as the cause.

Board president Roger Sherman said that Headwaters Montana played a significant role in protecting the North Fork of the Flathead Rive from Canadian coal mine development in the early 200’s with passage of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act.  Headwaters marshaled bipartisan local support for the protection measures.

Headwaters also helped lower the temperature of the usually controversial Flathead Forest management plan revision process by initiating the Whitefish Range Partnership that brought diverse stakeholders to the table to resolve complex issues.  The final plan improved snowmobiling opportunities and recommended 80,000-acres of wilderness in the Whitefish Range, for example.

The organization also worked on a range of other conservation issues on the Kootenai National Forest, as well as the Kootenai River pollution from British Columbia, and helped develop alternate sources of funding for non-game wildlife in Montana, among many other issues.

As part of its closing Headwaters Montana has endowed the Loren Kreck and Edwin Fields Wilderness Scholarship Fund and the Jack Potter Glacier National Park Stewardship Fund.  Both funds will be managed by the North Fork Preservation Association (NFPA).

NFPA president Flannery Coats said her organization looks forward to carrying on some of the legacy work of Headwaters.  “Both these funds will help bring wilderness education and better natural resource management decisions to Montana in general and Glacier Park in particular,” Coats said.

In addition to these funds, Headwaters Montana made significant cash gifts to the Montana Land Reliance’s “Bigfork Natural Area Project”, and the Flathead Land Trust’s “Badrock Canyon Project.”

The Bigfork project hopes to build upon and expand the current trail system along the “Wild Mile” in Bigfork.  The Badrock Canyon Project seeks to protect about 800 outstanding acres along the Flathead River between Columbia Falls and Columbia Falls Heights.

“We’re really pleased to contribute to these two outstanding projects,” said Sherman.  “We hope our donation will inspire others to contribute.”

To learn more about the Wilderness Scholarship Fund or Glacier Park Stewardship Award contact Flannery Coats at 406-407-3863.  Contact Mark Schiltz at 406-837-2178 at the Montana Land Reliance regarding the Bigfork Natural Area Project, and Paul Travis at 406-261-4357 at the Flathead Land Trust for the Badrock Canyon Project.

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Northern grizzly management complicated by COVID, inexperienced campers

A pair of grizzly bears forage in Glacier National Park - Chris Servheen
A pair of grizzly bears forage in Glacier National Park – Chris Servheen

Boy, howdy is this true! An interesting article from the Missoula Current . . .

The worldwide pandemic has brought Montana’s grizzly bear managers a new challenge to deal with: a surge of new residents and backcountry neophytes.

On Monday, biologists and land managers of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee discussed what a chaotic summer it had been because of visitors flooding into Montana and how a repeat next summer could be as dangerous for grizzly bears as it was annoying for longtime residents.

“At Glacier National Park, there was a huge COVID effect,” said Glacier Park superintendent Jeff Mow. “Not only is it a large number of visitors who’d never been on public lands before and therefore didn’t know how to behave with some very basic skills like taking care of garbage, burying human waste, dogs, all those public use issues.”

Read more . . .

Whitebark Pine proposed as threatened species

Whitebark Pine Closeup, 2016 - W. K. Walker
Whitebark Pine Closeup, 2016 – W. K. Walker

Whitebark Pine are getting serious attention from the US Fish and Wildlife Service lately . . .

Climate change, voracious beetles and disease are imperiling the long-term survival of a high-elevation pine tree that’s a key source of food for some grizzly bears and found across the West, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

A Fish and Wildlife Service proposal scheduled to be published Wednesday would protect the whitebark pine tree as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, according to documents posted by the Office of the Federal Register.

But the agency said it doesn’t plan to designate which forested areas are critical to the tree’s survival, stopping short of what some environmentalists argue is needed.

Read more . . .

Cabin owners petition to protect Tepee Lake from motorized recreation

Tepee Lake

Some nice coverage of local efforts to protect Tepee Lake from motorized use . . .

Cabin owners around a small, remote lake in northwestern Montana are worried that increasing pressure from motorized recreationists could forever harm their little slice of heaven.

That’s why Rachel Potter and her neighbors have petitioned the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to pursue a nonmotorized watercraft designation for Tepee Lake. “We really believe that now’s the time to make a rule before there is a problem,” Potter said.

The commission agreed, which will start a rule-making process to ban motorized boats and personal watercraft from the lake.

Read more . . .