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 . . .

US officials say climate change not a threat to wolverines

Wolverine on rocks - Photo by Hans Veth on Unsplash
Wolverine on rocks – Photo by Hans Veth on Unsplash

Here we go again . . .

U.S. wildlife officials are withdrawing proposed protections for the snow-loving wolverine after determining the rare and elusive predator is not as threatened by climate change as once thought.

Details on the decision were obtained in advance by The Associated Press and expected to be announced formally on Thursday.

A federal judge four years ago had blocked an attempt to withdraw protections that were first proposed in 2010, pointing to evidence from government scientists that wolverines were “squarely in the path of climate change. But years of additional research suggest the animals’ prevalence is expanding, not contracting, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials said. And they predict that enough snow will persist at high elevations for wolverines to den in mountain snowfields each spring despite warming temperatures.

Wildlife advocates said they are likely to challenge the move in court.

Read more . . .

Suit claims 2018 Forest Plan violates grizzly protection standards

Grizzly bear in early fall - Montana FWP
Grizzly bear in early fall – Montana FWP

This landed a little later than expected . . .

Four environmental groups filed suit in federal court Aug. 5 against the Forest Service, the Department of Interior and the Montana Logging Association challenging the 2018 Flathead National Forest plan.

The suit was not unexpected. The groups, WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, Swan View Coalition, and Friends of the Wild Swan have maintained the that the Forest Plan, which was crafted over the course of several years, was, in essence, illegally handling the way the Forest would manage roads into the future.

At the heart of the case, the plaintiffs maintain, is the new plan disregards road closure standards that were set in the previous plan.

Read more . . .

NFPA Annual Meeting photos

The NFPA annual meeting was held outside this year, on July 25, with social distancing and masks. Frank Vitale was recognized and appreciated for his 38 years on the NFPA board of directors. Dave Hadden was present to describe the Headwaters Montana endowment to NFPA to continue the Jack Potter Glacier National Park Stewardship Award and the Loren Kreck-Edwin Fields Wilderness Scholarship Fund. Flannery Coats became the new NFPA president and Diane Boyd was newly elected to the board. The speaker was Teagan Tomlin on “The Geological Story of Glacier National Park.”

Here are some photos from the event, courtesy of Roger Sullivan . . .

Part of the crowd — recognize anyone?
Frank Vitale receives an award for serving 38 years on the NFPA board!
Part of the group watching Teagan Tomlin’s presentation on “The Geological Story of Glacier National Park”
Teagan Tomlin’s talks about “The Geological Story of Glacier National Park”