Summer 2019 NFPA Newsletter online

NFPA 2019 Newsletter HeaderFor those of you who can’t wait on the mail, the North Fork Preservation Association Summer 2019 Newsletter is now available online in the “Newsletters” section of the website. Enjoy!

Here’s a partial table of contents:

  • Announcement of NFPA Annual Meeting, July 27
  • Our Mission Extends Beyond the North Fork (President’s letter)
  • Working Group Reports:
    – Watershed Currents
    – Wonderful Wildlife
    – Wilderness Matters
  • Citizen Science in the North Fork and Beyond
  • Please take the online survey about conservation in Montana!

 

Summer North Fork Interlocal meeting Wednesday, July 10

Bob Dunkley explains Park plans for the Polebridge Ranger Station, post Red Bench Fire, at the 1989 Interlocal at Sondreson Hall.
Bob Dunkley explains Park plans for the Polebridge Ranger Station, post Red Bench Fire, at the 1989 Interlocal at Sondreson Hall.

The Summer 2019 North Fork Interlocal Agreement Meeting is at 1:00pm, on Wednesday, July 10 at Sondreson Hall. This year’s sponsor is the North Fork Road Coalition for Health and Safety (NFRCHS).

Interlocal meetings are held twice each year, winter and summer. These semi-annual get-togethers are intended to encourage open discussion between North Fork landowners and neighbors and local, state and federal agencies.

In other words, it’s a big deal if you have an interest in the North Fork.

This summer’s meeting will include a  special presentation by the Forest Service on the planned Frozen Moose Project. This is a new vegetation and fuels project in the northern part of the North Fork. Sarah Canepa, NEPA Team Leader, will give a brief overview and answer questions.

Preceding the Interlocal meeting is the annual FireWise Day Workshop at 9:30 a.m. and lunch at noon. Lunch is a community potluck, with the NFRCHS supplying the main course and drinks.

New conservation easement protects North Fork land

Grizzly bear on Coolidge property in the North Fork Flathead - Del and Linda Coolidge
Grizzly bear on Coolidge property in the North Fork Flathead – Del and Linda Coolidge

Congratulations to North Forkers Del and Linda Coolidge on establishing a conservation easement protecting their land in the North Fork . . .

The North Fork of the Flathead River valley retains the sort of comparatively intact habitat in which wildlife thrives.

This same habitat seems to inspire in many of the people who share it with four-legged animals, migratory birds, rare plants and wild fish a sense of obligation to serve as stewards.

On Friday, the Flathead Land Trust announced that Del and Linda Coolidge, landowners in the Polebridge area, had donated a conservation easement to the nonprofit that will “conserve in perpetuity” 30 acres of scenic open space important for wildlife.

Read more . . .

B.C. border states urge action on transboundary coal pollution

It’s abut time this happened. The North Fork dodged this bullet (so far). However, other regions downstream from British Columbian coal operations have not been so lucky . . .

In a joint June 13 letter to British Columbia Premier John Horgan, a bipartisan slate of senators from all four states bordering the coal-rich Canadian province is pressing its top official to recognize the urgency of safeguarding U.S. waters from mining pollutants spilling downstream into shared transboundary watersheds.

In the latest and most authoritative appeal for Canadian officials to adopt more stringent water-quality standards, all eight senators from Alaska, Montana, Washington, and Idaho drafted a letter highlighting the ongoing efforts to mitigate the environmental and economic impacts resulting from large-scale hard rock and coal mines in British Columbia, as well as to draw attention to B.C.’s regulatory shortcomings surrounding natural resources shared by the neighboring nations.

“While we appreciate Canada’s engagement to date, we remain concerned about the lack of oversight of Canadian mining projects near multiple transboundary rivers that originate in B.C. and flow into our four U.S. states,” the letter states.

Read more . . .

Sen. Jon Tester re-launches Blackfoot-Clearwater bill

Grizzly Basin - added to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area under the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act - Zack Porter photo
Grizzly Basin – added to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area under the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act – Zack Porter photo

Some very good news about the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. We’ll see if it flies this time . . .

Citing a decade of groundwork, Sen. Jon Tester has reintroduced his Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act in another attempt to protect wilderness and recreation features around the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.

More than 100 supporters filled the KettleHouse Brewery taproom here on Friday to cheer the announcement. Among the first to speak was Pyramid Mountain Lumber Chief Operating Officer Loren Rose, who recalled how timber workers teamed up with wilderness advocates to create an award-winning forestry project based on Tester’s unsuccessful Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. He compared that to a three-legged stool, supported by logging work, recreation opportunities and wilderness protection.

“Everyone who collaborates expects to get something out of it, something they couldn’t get otherwise,” Rose said. “Logs on trucks. Acres for wilderness. So far, our collaborative partners have got very little, but they supported us wholeheartedly. The final piece is the wilderness additions. This stool is not going to stand on one leg forever.”

Read more . . .

Griz expert Chris Servheen says ‘mountain bikes are a grave threat’

Grizzly bear feeding on bison carcass near Yellowstone Lake - Jim Peaco, NPS
Grizzly bear feeding on bison carcass near Yellowstone Lake – Jim Peaco, NPS

Chris Servheen, recently retired USFWS Grizzly Bear Recovery Manager, is still keeping his hand in. He is quoted extensively in this commentary on bike-bear conflicts in the Mountain Journal. Kudos to Debo Powers for spotting this one . . .

Does mountain biking impact wildlife, any more than hikers and horseback riders do?

More specifically: could rapidly-growing numbers of cyclists in the backcountry of Greater Yellowstone negatively affect the most iconic species—grizzly bears—living in America’s best-known wildland ecosystem?

It’s a point of contention in the debate over how much of the Gallatin Mountains, managed by the U.S. Forest Service, should receive elevated protection under the 1964 Wilderness Act. The wildest core of the Gallatins, located just beyond Yellowstone National Park and extending northward toward Bozeman’s back door, is the 155,000-acre Buffalo-Porcupine Creek Wilderness Study Area.

Read more . . .

Feds say judge overstepped in grizzly delisting case

Grizzly bear in Yellowstone NP - Ken Pekoc, YNP
Grizzly bear in Yellowstone NP – Ken Pekoc, YNP

Here’s a good overview of the grizzly delisting suit currently making its way through the court system . . .

Federal attorneys pushed their case that Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bears should be removed from Endangered Species Act protection, arguing in an appeal filed late Friday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wasn’t required to do a comprehensive review of all grizzlies in the Lower 48 states.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s opening salvo to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also accused the lower court judge in Missoula of improperly substituting his opinion of the scientific evidence of grizzly genetic diversity for that of FWS biologists.

However, the government said it would not challenge U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen’s ruling that state wildlife agencies aren’t ready to manage the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) bears and haven’t sufficiently studied how delisting one big grizzly population might affect smaller separate populations.

Read more . . .

Conservation scrapped, climate change ignored

Dovetail, a "land with wilderness characteristics" not protected in 2019 Lewistown RMP - photo by Aubrey Bertram
Dovetail, a “land with wilderness characteristics” not protected in 2019 Lewistown RMP – photo by Aubrey Bertram

An alert from the Montana Wilderness Association concerning the current BLM Resource Management Plan for the area around Lewiston, in central Montana . . .

The Bureau of Land Management yesterday released a second version of a resource management plan (RMP) draft directing how the agency’s Lewistown Field Office will manage 650,000 surface acres of public lands in central Montana over the next 20 to 30 years.

We’ve dubbed this area “the wild heart of Montana,” because it’s one of America’s last and largest intact prairie ecosystems, supporting one of the most productive populations of ungulates in North America and a thriving host of grassland bird species. It’s a remote and stunning place of buttes, breaks, and unbroken grasslands bordering the Upper Missouri River Breaks, the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge, and the UL Bend Wildlife Refuge. The area epitomizes what makes Montana so special.

But the preferred management option Interior presents in the draft RMP released today would protect none of this area. Instead, the RMP would open up almost all of it to oil and gas development and other uses that would diminish the wild character, wildlife habitat, and everything else that makes central Montana so special.

Read more . . .

Citizen science opportunities and trainings announced for 2019

From a Glacier Park news release . . .

Citizen Science Opportunities and Trainings Announced for 2019
Public Invited to Participate in Wildlife and Plant Research

West Glacier, MT –This summer, the public is invited to help the park track and study important species of concern through its citizen science program. The program allows participants to explore the park and learn about important park resources while collecting valuable data for park managers.

One citizen scientist said the experience was an “excuse to go into the park, sit down for an hour and just search with scope and binoculars—the greatest and most effective and cost-efficient therapy out there!”

Participants can help out with several projects on an ongoing basis, or attend a one-time citizen science event.

Citizen Science Projects

People who would like to collect data on a variety of species of concern and can commit to completing a minimum of three surveys should sign-up for a one-day training session to learn how to identify, observe, and record species information.

Once trained, citizen scientists are free to collect data during their own scheduled hiking trips in the park. Please contact the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center at Glac_Citizen_Science@nps.gov or 406-888-7986 to sign-up for training or for more information.

Scheduled training dates for all ongoing citizen science projects are listed below. Additional training sessions may be scheduled based on interest.

–      Common Loon Citizen Science

Gather information on the distribution and reproduction of common loons to understand more about population trends and nesting success.

West Glacier training dates:  May 7, May 14, June 27, July 9

St. Mary training date:  May 29

–      High Country Citizen Science

Document mountain goats and pikas at selected sites to assist with population and distribution estimates and genetic mapping. These species are habitat and temperature sensitive, and may be affected by changing climate.

West Glacier training dates: June 4, June 15, July 16, July 29

St. Mary training date:  June 26

–      Huckleberry Phenology Citizen Science 

Huckleberries are an important food source for wildlife, including grizzly bears. The park is collecting data to understand how weather and other factors influence the phenology, or timing, of berry ripeness.

West Glacier training date: June 6

–      Lynx Camera Trapping

Canada lynx are a rare and elusive predator native to Glacier National Park. The goal of this project is to learn the status of lynx populations in the park using camera traps to determine where they are currently present. Citizen scientists can help this research project by hiking to camera traps along trails to check and take down cameras. This is a new project, made possible by donor funding from the Glacier National Park Conservancy.

West Glacier training date: August 1 (evening)

–      Hawk Watch Raptor Migration Counts

One of the most important migration routes for golden eagles and other raptors on their way from northern breeding grounds to warmer climates passes through the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park. Citizen scientists count migrating raptors at Mount Brown or Lake McDonald Lodge.

West Glacier training date: August 27

Citizen Science Special Events

 Noxious Weed Blitz on July 18, 2019
Participants learn about the ecological impacts and identification of noxious weeds and assist in hand pulling.

July Wildlife Crossings Map-a-Thon
The park will hold a map-a-thon this summer to document wildlife crossings along US Highway 2. Multiple workshops will be held in July in West Glacier and East Glacier. Participant observations will help prioritize locations for wildlife crossing structures or other mitigation efforts to help keep wildlife migrating throughout the Crown of the Continent.

Alpine Bird Bioblitz on July 19, 2019
Participants will document and learn about twelve of Glacier’s alpine bird species.

Fall Fungus Bioblitz on October 12- 13, 2019
Participants team up with mycologists to identify as many species of fungus as they can find.

Citizen Science Program Information
Since 2005, the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center in Glacier National Park has managed the Glacier Citizen Science Program. It relies on trained citizen scientists to collect population data on species of interest to the park. Citizen science training informs participants about threats to native plants and animals that may result from human disturbance, climate change, and invasive species. The citizen science program not only provides valuable data to park managers, but also creates an informed group of people involved in active Glacier National Park stewardship.

Glacier National Park Conservancy donors provide nearly all funding for the park’s citizen science program. For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/rlc/crown/citizen-science.htm or contact the office at Glac_Citizen_Science@nps.gov or 406-888-7986.

www.nps.gov

 

More than 150 apply for grizzly bear advisory panel

Sow grizzly bear spotted near Camas in northwestern Montana. - Montana FWP
Huh? How many?

There is quite a bit of interest in Governor Bullock’s grizzly bear advisory panel . . .

More than 150 people have applied to sit on an advisory committee to come up with recommendations on how to manage Montana’s grizzly bears.

Randy Arnold, a regional supervisor with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, tells The Missoulian the application process has been “flooded,” and the committee will probably consist of fewer than 20 people.

Gov. Steve Bullock announced in March he would appoint the committee, a move that came shortly after a judge restored federal protections for grizzlies in and around Yellowstone National Park. Bears from Yellowstone and in northwestern Montana have been spreading into new areas, triggering conflicts with ranchers, hunters and others.

Read more . . .