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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 . . .

House passes the Great American Outdoors Act with bipartisan support; bill heads to President’s desk

Coal Ridge, July 21, 2018 - W. K. WalkerSometimes, an election year is a Good Thing . . .

On a day that has already seen a historic win for our public lands, the news got even better when the House passed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) this afternoon by a 310-107 vote.

The bill, which the Senate overwhelmingly passed back in June, now moves to the president’s desk.

This is a tremendous victory for public lands in Montana and across the country. Most notably, the bill will provide full, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), one of our nation’s most critical conservation programs. LWCF has been essential to hundreds of public lands projects across Montana, including the acquisition and development of numerous state parks, the construction and maintenance of public trail systems, and the development of boat ramps, campgrounds, and fishing access sites. The fund, which disburses royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling, has contributed over $600 million to Montana projects in its 55-year existence. The bill will also provide some $9 billion to address the maintenance backlog facing our national public lands.

Read more . . .

Tester introduces Badger-Two Medicine Protection Act

A rainbow arches over the Badger Two Medicine, early July 2020

Good news! It’s been a long time coming. Let’s see if it makes it though the legislative meat grinder . . .

Montana Sen. Jon Tester has introduced a bill that would permanently protect the Badger-Two Medicine Region just south of Marias Pass and Glacier National Park.

Tester, a Democrat, announced the bill Wednesday.

“A few weeks ago, the Blackfeet Tribe and the people of Montana won a huge victory for our public lands when the last oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine was remanded to a lower court,” said Tester. “Now it’s time we build on this momentum and continue the fight to safeguard this sacred area, which is why I am introducing legislation that honors the will of the Blackfeet Tribe and of public lands owners across our state by permanently protecting the Badger-Two Medicine for future generations.”

Tester’s Badger-Two Medicine Protection Act designates 127,000 acres in the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest in Glacier and Pondera counties as the Badger-Two Medicine Cultural Heritage Area…

Read more . . .

Teagan Tomlin presents “The Geologic Story of Glacier National Park”, July 25, 7:30pm

Teagan Tomlin presents “The Geologic Story of Glacier National Park”
Saturday, July 25th at 7:30 pm (right after the NFPA annual meeting at 6:45pm)

St. Mary Lake

Teagan Tomlin studied Geology at BYU where she earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Geology. She is a former intern with the Geological Society of America where she began interpreting the geology of Glacier National Park in 2008. She currently works in Glacier as the Executive Assistant in the Superintendent’s Office and continues to assist with geology interpretation and training interpretive rangers. Her presentation features some of the most magnificent footage and fascinating story-lines of earth’s unbelievable journey.

The presentation is preceded by the annual meeting of The North Fork Preservation Association at 6:45pm. The meeting will be held at the property of NFPA board member Roger Sullivan. He is located 3.5 miles south of Polebridge at 9305 North Fork Road. (A “NFPA” sign will be posted at his driveway.) The entire event will be outdoors, and masks will be required. Don’t forget your lawn chair and any personal refreshments you’d like. Our traditional potluck will be postponed due to, well, you know what. Lastly, NFPA t-shirts will be for sale for $20 each and membership dues can be paid. Hope to see you there.

Headwaters Montana will close doors at end of 2020

Announcement from NFPA President Debo Powers:

Headwaters Montana has been a sister organization to NFPA for decades and Dave Hadden has been one of the most effective conservation advocates of all time in both local and transboundary issues.  We are sorry to see Headwaters Montana close, but we are excited about continuing the Jack Potter Glacier National Park Stewardship Award and the Loren Kreck-Edwin Fields Wilderness Scholarship Fund. (See details below.)

Here’s the full text of the announcement from Headwaters Montana . . .

Headwaters Montana LogoHeadwaters Montana announces with mixed emotion our board of director’s decision to close our conservation organization by the end of 2020. We want to extend our profound gratitude to all of you who have supported and followed our work. Our successes year after year would have been impossible without your moral and financial support. So, Thank You! We are grateful!

Briefly, we decided to close for several concurrent reasons. First, as executive director I am retiring at the end of the year. Second, our long-tern “President for Life” Edwin Fields passed away in February and the board thinks this event in combination with my retirement is a signal to bring things to a close. And lastly, Headwaters does not have the financial capacity to bring in my replacement; we simply can’t afford to continue

Founded in 2007, Headwaters has filled an important niche in the northwest Montana conservation landscape. We have specialized in working on issues not covered by other local groups. Trout groups, wildlife groups, bird groups, open land groups, smart growth groups, lake groups, and other groups all exist in the Flathead and Kootenai regions. Headwaters has functioned as the only local grassroots groups that works on long-term conservation goals of protecting water and wildlife across the transboundary frontier with British Columbia, a critical conservation corridor.

Our particular focus on transboundary issues with British Columbia included protecting the North Fork of the Flathead River Valley from coal mining in the BC headwaters that culminated in the North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2014.

More recently, we have focused on protecting water and fish in the Kootenai River system from the degradation due to mountaintop removal coal mining in BC’s Elk River Valley. We worked to protect the threatened terrestrial wildlife habitat across this transboundary landscape, including the wild core of the Whitefish Range in the Flathead National Forest, the remaining roadless lands in the Canadian Flathead and the Kootenay. (In the U.S. we spell “Kootenai” and in Canada they spell “Kootenay”.) Our work with partners has resulted in millions of dollars for transboundary water quality studies that will lay the groundwork for holding BC accountable for its pollution.

One of the keys to our success has been our willingness to work with almost any stakeholder interested in finding solutions to big problems in open and transparent fashion. The Whitefish Range Partnership exemplified this approach, which we conceived and helped lead over 2012-13. This group of about 30 local citizens and stakeholders met for a year to hammer out a community consensus agreement on a suite of management recommendations for the Whitefish Range as part of the Flathead National Forest management plan revision affecting over 400,000 acres and including an 80,000-acre recommended wilderness.

Similarly, over 2017-19 we pulled together 13 statewide and national groups to form the Montana Wildlife Futures Group that significantly advanced the efforts to find permanent additional funding for non-game wildlife in Montana. We led the Oil Safe Flathead effort to draw attention to the risks and need for action regarding the shipment of Bakken crude oil and other hazardous material along the BNSF rail line running along the Middle Fork Flathead and through West Glacier, Columbia Falls, and Whitefish. We helped the North Fork Trail Association get started as part of citizen effort to help maintain national forest trails.

Around the edges Headwaters Montana accomplished other goals. We are happy to report that the Jack Potter Glacier National Park Stewardship Award, which we created in 2012, will be passed to the North Fork Preservation Association (NFPA). Headwaters will endow this award so that citizens, public employees and non-profit groups will continue to be recognized and rewarded for their effort to protect Glacier Park.

Lastly, when a non-profit closes, it is required by IRS rules to disperse remaining assets to other 501-c-3 non-profits. In 2010, our dear friend and benefactor, Dr. Loren Kreck, bequeathed a substation gift to Headwaters. In addition, the family of Edwin Fields, our recently deceased “President for Life,” will make a gift to Headwaters. We are pleased to announce that the Headwaters board has established the Loren Kreck – Edwin Fields Wilderness Scholarship Fund. This fund will provide educational assistance grants to graduate students with a focus on wilderness advocacy. Once again, the NFPA board has agreed to adopt and manage this scholarship as Headwaters closes its doors.

In closing, we would like to again say, “Thank You!” for your years of support. Our successes are indeed your successes.