OK. this is pretty impressive. Below is the lead-in to an excellent story by the Missoulian’s inimitable Rob Chaney about a mapping study just completed by Brad Blickhan and Jillian McKenna concerning the wilderness character of Glacier National Park. If you can’t get past the newspaper’s paywall, just jump straight to the study’s immersive web page. You won’t regret it . . .
Two things about Glacier National Park might seem obvious but aren’t. First, for all its million wild acres of peaks and lakes, Glacier is not legally wilderness. And second, for all the satellites, traffic counters, lidar scanners and other gizmos monitoring activity in the park, we don’t have a good measuring stick showing how its wild qualities have changed over time…
Which brings us to that measuring stick and Brad Blickhan, Glacier’s wilderness and wild and scenic river corridor manager. Blickhan and colleague Jillian McKenna spent much of last year developing a “wilderness character” analysis of the park…
Kalispell, MT, November 4, 2021– The Flathead National Forest, in coordination with Glacier National Park, is excited to announce that after a year-long delay, planning efforts will begin once again on the Comprehensive River Management Plan (CRMP) for the Three Forks of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River. The project will continue to be coordinated by HydroSolutions Inc, a Helena, Montana natural resource consulting firm.
In the fall/winter of 2020 the project team was working on an initial draft of the CRMP. This plan along with an environmental assessment was anticipated to be released for public comment in January of 2020, with a final decision in the summer of 2020. The CRMP project was delayed due to lack of funding for completing the contract as well as staffing and capacity issues. In January 2021, the Forest Service secured additional funding to extend the contract with HydroSolutions through August 2022.
The purpose of the project is to fulfill the requirements of Section 3(d)(1) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act that states that “the Federal agencies charged with the administration of each component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System shall prepare a comprehensive management plan…to provide for the protection of river values and Section 3(d) (2) that requires that river management plans for Wild and Scenic Rivers designated prior to 1986 be reviewed for conformity with the Act. Prior to developing the proposed action, six public engagement sessions were held to discuss water quality, wildlife, cultural and ethnography features, fisheries, geology and botany, and recreation and scenery. The Proposed Action was then drafted and released in late summer 2019, which included a 45-day public scoping period that generated 126 written comments and included two public meetings attended by approximately 180 people.
The purpose and need for the Flathead River CRMP Project, as stated in the proposed action is:
To protect and enhance the outstandingly remarkable values identified in the original designation.
To update the existing river management plan as required to maintain compliance with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and to reflect changes that have occurred since designation (1976) in forest and park management, special status species, and other laws that affect resources within the Wild and Scenic River corridor.
This plan will be implemented through three primary mechanisms including intergovernmental coordination, individual agency action, and partnerships with non-governmental organizations and the public. This plan provides management direction and information on the desired river conditions as well as monitoring indicators, triggers, and thresholds for the Flathead Wild and Scenic River into the future. Future projects and site-specific activities must be consistent with the regulatory guidance provided in the CRMP as well as the Flathead Forest Plan.
Because some time has passed since the release of the proposed action, we encourage interested public to review the proposed action document and project background materials. The Proposed Action document highlights the elements of the CRMP that address the current status of the outstanding remarkable values along these river segments, outlines goals and desired conditions, describes the user capacity determination process, and proposes a monitoring strategy, indicators, and management direction to carry forward. The proposed action can be accessed at the Flathead Comprehensive River Management Plan project website and the CRMP Project Background link on the Flathead NF CRMP Website includes all the materials from the 2018 Pre-scoping public engagement meetings and detailed project background.
The new project timeline anticipates that a Draft CRMP and environmental assessment will be released in the spring of 2022 for public review and comment. The project team plans to hold a public engagement session to provide more information and facilitate public input on the Draft Plan. The final decision and CRMP is expected to be released late summer 2022.
The Forest appreciates the public’s continued engagement and interest in the Flathead CRMP Project and look forward to receiving more input as we move forward. The Three Forks of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River is a nationally and locally important resource. The Forest/Team is committed to developing a CRMP that will meet the requirements of the Wild and Scenic River Act and continue to protect and enhance the rivers free flowing conditions, water quality, and the outstandingly remarkable values for current and future generations.
Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance is excited to share that we are hiring a community engagement coordinator to help further efforts to protect the Badger-Two Medicine region of Montana. This full-time, salaried position is a funded, two-year fellowship designed for recent college graduates or early career professionals entering the conservation field. Ideally, the individual will have roots/connections to the Blackfeet Nation or broader Reservation community, but tribal affiliation or community ties is not a requirement. If you could post the attached job description to job boards with which you are affiliated or pass it along directly to any potential candidates you know and encourage them to apply, it would be much appreciated. Thank you so much for your help in finding terrific candidates!
Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance
We are long-time Montana residents and professional wildlife biologists and managers with a total of 1,493 years of experience in wildlife management and wildlife habitat management with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), federal agencies, and Tribes. Among us are 13 retired biologists with more than 370 years with FWP, and three former commissioners from the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Montana’s natural resources are under attack by extremists and special interests in the legislature and the governor’s office. These extreme views are reflected in the anti-predator, anti-hunter access, and anti-habitat preservation legislation introduced and, in most cases, passed in the 2021 legislature. The governor’s appointments to the Montana Wildlife Commission as well as the appointed leadership of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) now represent the interests of a minority instead of the majority of the hunters, anglers, and citizens of Montana who value Montana’s wildlife whether they hunt and fish or not. We believe these changes have resulted in a steep decline in the morale of career FWP staff across the agency, especially biologists. The focus of the current Wildlife Commission and FWP leadership are the interests of these special interest groups:
Large, politically connected landowners who want to privatize and commercialize elk hunting for a privileged few on private lands by selling access or outfitted elk hunts, particularly hunts for trophy bulls. They also want to reduce cow elk numbers by aggressive shoulder seasons into mid-February on public lands adjacent to private lands rather than hunting on private lands.
Commercial outfitters who want to expand outfitter financial opportunities and reduce regulation and regulation enforcement.
Trappers, hound hunters, crossbow hunters, and muzzle loaders who want to legislate their special interest desires such as reducing trap setbacks near roads and trails; use of hounds to hunt black bears in grizzly range; extending the big game hunting season just for muzzleloaders; and allowing use of high technology crossbows during the traditional bow hunting season.
• Wolf haters in the legislature who made up fact-free stories about the impacts of wolves on elk populations in order to destroy Montana’s recovered wolf population by legislating use of baited leg-hold traps and neck snares for wolves on public lands, unethical night hunting over bait with night vision scopes and spotlights, extending the wolf trapping season, increased bag limits per hunter, paying bounties to kill wolves, and allowing baited neck snares and leg-hold traps on public land in grizzly and black bear habitat during the time bears are out of the den. These wolf persecution methods are completely contrary to the accepted principles of fair chase hunting and hunter ethics.
The Montana Wildlife Commission now represents special interests and not the average sports men and women and all citizens of Montana. Recent Commission appointees are or were leaders of:
The Safari Club (wealthy trophy hunters).
Montana Outfitters and Guides Association (commercialization of public wildlife hunting for the profit of a few).
Montana Stockgrowers Association (livestock interests/large landowners and commercialization of private land elk hunting).
PERC, the Property and Environment Research Center, an organization that promotes privatizing wildlife and giving big landowners special elk permits that they can sell in exchange for some limited public hunting access.
The governor’s appointed leadership of FWP and the Wildlife Commission have demonstrated that they will represent minority special interests instead of the majority of hunters, anglers, and citizens of Montana who value Montana wildlife and fish. For example, the Commission, in a hastily organized and minimally advertised Zoom meeting on Sept. 24, awarded the Wilks brothers eight trophy bull permits for their ranch in the Snowy Mountains. They get to award these eight permits to those “…who contribute to the success of the ranch.” This is privatization and commercialization of Montana wildlife for wealthy landowners, which is fully supported by the 2021 legislature and the governor. These eight bull permits are above and beyond what FWP biologists recommended for harvest in the area and the Commission awarded them anyway.
Wildlife management in Montana has become politicized. Politicians are now setting science-free wildlife policy based on their personal, partisan agendas. The careful management of Montana’s treasured wildlife and fish used to be a bi-partisan issue, but not anymore. The Republicans in the legislature, appointed FWP leadership, and the appointed Wildlife Commission have ignored facts and science to implement regressive wildlife policy. They also have ignored the concerns of the public even when the public is overwhelmingly opposed to what they are doing.
As wildlife professionals we oppose the current politicization of wildlife management and wildlife policy in Montana. We believe that wildlife management should be based on science and facts in order to assure the careful management of all of Montana’s fish and wildlife. Such decisions should be made in accordance with the interests of the majority of Montana residents who desire healthy fish and wildlife and a healthy environment. The future of Montana’s fish and wildlife should not be sacrificed to partisan political agendas that cater to special interests, favor the wealthy few, and are based on irrational hatred of predators.
Chris Servheen, Ph.D.
35 years US Fish and Wildlife Service as Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator (retired). Missoula, MT.
Richard Mace, Ph.D.
31 years Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks as Research Biologist (grizzly and black bears) (retired). Primarily responsible for grizzly bear population ecology research in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. Kalispell, MT.
Harvey Nyberg, M.S.
26 years Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, last job as Regional Supervisor (retired). Lewistown, MT.
Gayle Joslin, M.S.
32 years Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks as Wildlife Management Biologist and Research Biologist (retired). Helena, MT.
Keith Aune, M.S.
41 years: 31 years Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks as Wildlife Research Biologist, Laboratory Supervisor, Chief of Wildlife Research (retired); and 10 years as a wildlife biologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society (retired). Bozeman, MT.
Bruce Sterling, M.S.
38 years Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks as Management Biologist (retired). Thompson Falls, MT.
Jim Vashro, M.S.
39 years Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks as fishery biologist and regional fisheries manager (retired). Kalispell, MT.
Mike Madel, B.S,
40 years: 34 years Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks as Grizzly Bear Management Biologist and Project Leader of Rocky Mountain Front Grizzly Bear Management Program (retired); 6 years UM Border Grizzly Project, US Forest Service, and Fish Wildlife, and Parks as bear habitat and Research Biologist in the Missions and the Cabinet Mountains (retired). Choteau MT.
Diane Boyd, Ph.D.
23 years: 8 years Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks as wolf upland bird biologist (retired), 15 years University of Montana as large carnivore researcher (retired). Kalispell, MT.
Ron Marcoux, M.S.
40 years: 22 years Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks as Biologist and Deputy Director (retired); 18 years with Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in land conservation and administration (retired). Helena, MT.
Kristi DuBois, M.S.
34 years: 28 years Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks as a wildlife biologist (both game and nongame) (retired); and 6 years US Fish and Wildlife Service as a wildlife biologist (retired). Missoula, MT.
Tim Thier, M.S.
32 years: 27 years Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks as Wildlife Biologist (retired); 5 years US Fish and Wildlife Service as Wildlife Biologist (retired). Trego, MT.
Heidi B. Youmans, M.S.
27 years Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks as Area Management Biologist, Upland Game Bureau Chief, Non-Game Bureau Chief (retired). Helena, MT.
Graham Taylor, M.S.
42 years Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks as Area Wildlife Biologist and Regional Wildlife Manager (retired). Great Falls, MT.
Gary Olsen, M.S.
34 years Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks as Area Biologist (retired), Conrad, MT.
Gary Wolfe, Ph.D.
42 years: 4 years as a Commissioner on the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission, 12 years Vermejo Park Ranch Wildlife Biologist/Manager and big game Hunting Outfitter and Guide; 15 years Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Wildlife Biologist/Field Director, Director of Field Operations, Chief Operating Officer, President & CEO (retired); 11 years Vital Ground Foundation, Wildlife Biologist/Executive Director (retired); 60 years a deer and elk hunter. Missoula, MT.
Dan Vermillion, J.D.
13 years as a Commissioner on the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission. Livingston, MT.
Tim Aldrich, B.S.
4 years as a Commissioner on the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission. Missoula, MT.
Greg Munther, M.S.
32 years US Forest Service as Biologist and District Ranger (retired). Missoula, MT.
Chuck Schwartz, Ph.D.
36 years: 20 years, Alaska Fish and Game as Research Biologist (retired); and 16 years USGS as Leader, Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (retired). Bozeman, MT.
Sterling Miller, Ph.D.
21 years Alaska Fish and Game as Wildlife Management Biologist (retired). Affiliate Professor, University of Montana. Lolo, MT.
Dan Carney, M.S.
31 years Blackfeet Tribe as Senior Wildlife Biologist (retired). East Glacier, MT.
William H. Geer, M.S.
40 years: 16 years as a fisheries research biologist, chief of fisheries and director of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (retired); 24 years as a biologist with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (retired). Lolo, MT.
Douglas H. Chadwick, M.S.
43 years: 3 years wildlife technician with NPS, 40 years independent wildlife biologist collaborating with various university and agency researchers. Whitefish, MT.
Tom Puchlerz, M.S.
38 years US Forest Service as Wildlife Biologist, District Ranger, and Forest Supervisor (retired). Stevensville, MT.
Kate Kendall, M.S.
36 years National Park Service and US Geological Survey as research ecologist (retired). Columbia Falls, MT.
Gary Moses B.S.
35 years; 28 years National Park Service in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks as Supervisory Ranger (retired); Glacier Bear Management Committee Chair; 7 years as Counter Assault Bear Spray Ambassador (retired). Kalispell, MT.
Glenn Elison, M.S.
25 years US Fish and Wildlife Service as Assistant Regional Director for Refuges and Wildlife (retired). Lewistown, MT.
Joe Fontaine B.S.
28 years: 6 years U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Wildlife Biologist,18 years U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as Deputy Wolf Recovery Coordinator (retired), 4 years as Deputy Project Leader National Wildlife Refuge Complex (retired). Helena, MT.
Dave Wesley, Ph.D.
25 years: 20 years Ducks Unlimited as Director of Field Operations (retired); 5 years Mississippi State University as Associate Professor (retired). Missoula, MT.
Mike Getman, M.S.
35 years US Fish and Wildlife Service as Wildlife Biologist (retired). Lewistown, MT.
Glenn Plum, Ph.D.
25 years National Park Service as Wildlife Biologist (retired). Livingston, MT.
Mary Maj, M.S.
32 years US Forest Service as District and Regional Wildlife Biologist, Resource Staff Officer, and District Ranger (retired). Bozeman, MT.
Dale Becker, M.S.
39 years: 7 years as a private wildlife consultant; 32 years Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes as Tribal Wildlife Program Manager. Polson, MT.
Edward Bangs, MS.
36 years US Fish and Wildlife Service as Wildlife Biologist on Kenai NWR and Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Coordinator (retired). Helena, MT.
Jim Claar, M.S.
32 years: 21 years US Forest Service as Wildlife Biologist (retired), and 11 years Bureau of Indian Affairs as Wildlife Program Manager (retired). Missoula, MT.
Jack Stanford, Ph.D.
36 years Flathead Bay Biological Station as Director (retired). Bigfork, MT.
Kerry R. Forsman, Ph.D.
37 years University of Montana as Professor of Biology and Wildlife Biology (retired). Missoula MT.
Dan Pletscher, Ph.D.
29 years University of Montana as Professor and Director of the Wildlife Biology Program (retired). Missoula, MT.
Jay Gore, M.S.
30 years: 10 years US Forest Service as Wildlife Biologist (retired); 13 years US Fish and Wildlife Service as Wildlife Biologist (retired); 7 years Corps of Engineers as Wildlife Biologist (retired). Missoula MT.
Shannon Clairmont, B.S.
18 years Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes as Wildlife Biologist. Ronan, MT.
Mike Phillips, M.S.
35 years: US Fish and Wildlife Service Red Wolf Restoration Leader (retired); National Park Service Grey Wolf Restoration Leader (retired); Turner Endangered Species Fund Executive Director; Montana State Legislator 2006-2020. Bozeman, MT.
Lewis Young, M.S.
48 years: 31 years US Forest Service as Wildlife Biologist and Wildlife Program Manager (retired); 17 years as consultant with National Park Service, Bureau of Land management, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (retired). Eureka, MT.
Art Soukkala, M.S.
30 years Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes as a Wildlife Biologist working on Wildlife Conflicts and Restoring Wildlife Populations and Habitat. Charlo, MT.
Marion Cherry, M.S.
30 years: 8 years US Forest Service as wildlife biologist; 22 years Gallatin National Forest as Wildlife Biologist and Grizzly Bear Habitat Biologist (retired). Bozeman, MT.
It is with some grief and extra caution that I write to inform you all that the NFPA Board has decided it is most appropriate to change our Annual Meeting to a Zoom format given the intensity of the COVID case load in the Flathead. Sally Thompson, our speaker, will take a rain check and deliver her much anticipated presentation next year.
So, instead, we invite you to join us on October 2 for a short business meeting and some exciting organizational updates (including the introduction of our first scholarship recipient) at 5:45pm followed by a photographic journey through the expansive public lands of our great state of Montana by past president, Debo Powers at 6:30pm.
We look forward to “seeing” you all from the comfort of your homes next weekend. You’ll find an online meeting attendance link below . . .
On behalf of the Board and until we meet again,
Flannery Coats, President
North Fork Preservation Association
Many thanks for your patience as we reconfigure our plans for 2021 North Fork Preservation Association Annual Meeting plans in light of the Hay Creek Fire. Based on schedules of fellow organizations, as well as Mother Nature’s say, we have set a date, time and place for our gathering:
Saturday, October 2nd
at Home Ranch Bottoms
8950 North Fork Road
Our speaker this year is
Sally Thompson who co-wrote People Before the Park: The Kootenai and Blackfeet before Glacier National Park.
We would love for you to be among our honored guests.
4:30pm: Potluck supper
5:45pm: Short business meeting to elect officers and members of the Board of Directors and report on the work of NFPA
We are excited to spend an evening with all of you, share with you what we’ve been up to, and look forward to a great presentation.
Aggressive wolf management plans in Montana and Idaho are drawing the attention of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service . . .
On opening day of Montana’s expanded wolf-hunting season, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it has decided to conduct an in-depth status review to determine whether state management plans aiming to aggressively reduce wolf populations threaten the recovery of gray wolves.
The agency now has a year to conduct a further review of the species using the best available science to determine whether listing under the Endangered Species Act is warranted.
The process was initiated this summer when environmental groups asked the agency to relist the animals through two separate petitions. The groups filed the petitions after lawmakers in Montana and Idaho passed laws that encouraged aggressive population reduction by broadening the methods hunters could use to harvest wolves and expanding the trapping season.
In a release about the decision, the agency wrote that the two petitions presented “substantial information that potential increases in human-caused mortality may pose a threat to the gray wolf in the western U.S.” and that the “new regulatory mechanisms in Idaho and Montana may be inadequate to address this threat.”…
The Flathead Beacon has a good article by Tristan Scott discussing the loss of Monica and her three cubs, as well as the general North Fork community issues surrounding living with wildlife . . .
Twenty years ago, new arrivals to the remote North Fork Flathead River community of Polebridge were likely to hear some version of the following when asking for directions — just head north and hang a right at the pile of bear scat.
Situated on the doorstep of Glacier National Park, which merges with the Bob Marshall Wilderness to create the largest intact natural ecosystem in the Northern Rockies, the North Fork’s resident grizzly bear population has historically outnumbered its year-round residents, as evidenced by the prominent distribution of scatological droppings along the area’s trails and roadways. Still, the human interlopers who do call this wild chunk of country home have, more or less, learned how to coexist with their mammalian neighbors, reaching an accord that just comes with the territory in bear country.
And yet in recent years, due in part to the increased visitation at Glacier National Park, whose western boundary is defined by the North Fork Flathead River, as well as the expansion of commercial services in and around the community of Polebridge — leading to the development of “work camps” to house a growing number of seasonal workers — human-wildlife conflicts have been on the rise.
Polebridge, Montana [September 8, 2021] – Bear #418, known to locals as Monica, was euthanized Saturday, September 4th along with her three female yearlings, after receiving a multitude of food rewards over the past week. Due to several incidents involving improper food and garbage storage within an eight-mile radius of the Polebridge townsite the bears were ultimately deemed food-conditioned. Monica had been a resident female grizzly bear in the North Fork Valley for 17 years.
In response, two local non-profits, the North Fork Landowners Association (nflandowners.org) and the North Fork Preservation Association (gravel.org), will be working together, along with agency partners, to help improve food and garbage storage in the area as well as to make financial aid resources from conservation organizations such as Defenders of Wildlife and Vital Ground more readily available to residents and business owners in the North Fork.
The North Fork community deeply grieves the loss of Monica and her cubs and in the coming months will explore new avenues to further educate and assist residents and visitors in how to live and recreate in bear country in a manner safe for both bears and humans.
Here’s the latest from Tim Manley on the tragic saga of Monica and her three cubs. It was posted to Facebook in the early morning hours of September 6th. Scroll to the end of this post for a photo gallery . . .
Update on the grizzly bears… well, it was a difficult week. One that I would rather not repeat. I have read some of the comments and I understand everyone’s concerns and feelings. I think it is important to put a few things into context so everyone knows what transpired.
I am not going to mention names or locations but I think most people have heard about some of the locations where these incidents occurred. We tried to prevent further conflicts from occurring, but as you will see, this family group of bears were very food-conditioned and the property damage was extensive and knowing what they were going to do next was difficult to predict.
The adult female grizzly bear was known as Bear #418 or as we called her “Monica”. Based on the annual cementum of her premolar, her age was 20 years old. She was originally captured in 2004 as a sub-adult on the east side of the mountains at the site of a calf depredation. They didn’t know if she was the bear that killed the calf but the decision was made to relocate her to the west side of Glacier Park. She remained in the North Fork for 17 years and spent a majority of her time in Glacier Park, but denned in Hay Creek and on Cyclone.