Here’s the text of a letter sent yesterday by the North Fork Preservation Association to the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission regarding wolf management. See also yesterday’s alert regarding the situation…
Dear Montana Fish and Wildlife Commissioners:
The mission of the North Fork Preservation Association is to champion stewardship of the natural resources and protect the exceptional biodiversity of the North Fork of the Flathead River. We live simply in the North Fork, off the grid, make concessions for our wild neighbors, and, best of all, the ecosystem contains a full complement of wildlife, which also forms the foundation for our thriving recreation-based economy. Wolves and grizzly bears roam freely through our public (96%) and private (4%) lands here in relative harmony with the human residents. Sustainable population levels of ungulates have coexisted with wolves, bears, and other carnivores for a very long time here.
We were dismayed to see our 2021 Legislature pass many new bills that undermine the role of the FWP wildlife biologists and managers who make their professional decisions based on the best science available. These new bills are not based on science but rather on emotions, especially the bills regarding wolves. We are asking the Commission to maintain the pre-legislature status quo and avoid the significant, detrimental changes to wolf management. We support FWP’s professional management processes, and we hope that the Commission will continue to support FWP by taking a long, hard look at the newly proposed options and select those options for wolf management that preserve FWP’s ability to professionally manage them—Option 1, Limited New Tools.
While we understand that the Legislature indicated that it wants a smaller wolf population in Montana, each region should be evaluated on its own merits by the professional managers at FWP. We hope that a reasonable status quo harvest throughout Montana and our 2-wolf quota in the North Fork will be upheld by the Commission. Please support “Option 1—Limited New Tools” for management of wolves.
Thank you for your consideration.
Flannery Coats, President
For the NFPA Board of Directors
Several horrific bills were passed by the 2021 Montana Legislature that will harm wolves and grizzly bears! These include significant reduction of the wolf population through neck snaring, longer seasons, hunting at night with spotlights, larger bag limits, bounties, etc. These proposed changes are based on the angry emotions of a few legislators, and prohibit MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) from being able to reasonably manage wolves and bears based on the best science available. The FWP Commission will be voting on these proposed detrimental changes in August. We have until 5pm on July 26 to get comments to our commissioners against these disastrous new laws. Please comment before July 26! In your letter, please recommend “Option 1—Limited New Tools.” For more information & online comment submission go to: https://fwp.mt.gov/hunt/public-comment-opportunities and click on 2021 WOLF SEASON. You can also email the individual commissioners at:
With fire season looming, the NFPA’s Wildfire Information page has been subjected to its annual housecleaning. As usual, there was some “link rot.” A few new resources were added and one or two eliminated that simply no longer existed.
In coordination with Flathead National Forest and Glacier National Park, we are thrilled to launch the FRA River Ambassador program THIS SUMMER. This is last call for summer 2021 volunteers to serve as River Ambassadors. These representatives will essentially act as liaisons with the public at popular river access sites, and disseminate information about river safety and etiquette. Our Ambassadors will also have the opportunity to collect data related to river use in order to supply our agency partners with accurate and current information. This is our first year so we are still sorting out logistics, and there may be other tasks and opportunities for our Ambassadors to tackle this summer. If you are interested in being an FRA River Ambassador, we invite you to join us at our last information and training session on July 1st from 4-8pm. Information session will be at Hungry Horse Ranger District, followed by training at West Glacier field site. Please RSVP to email@example.com so we can plan accordingly. If you wish to participate, but may have a scheduling conflict with training let us know and we’ll do our best to accommodate.
The Summer 2021 Interlocal Agreement Meeting is at 1:00pm, on Wednesday, July 14 at Sondreson Community Hall. This summer’s Interlocal is hosted by the North Fork Preservation Association (NFPA). It follows the annual Firewise meeting at 9:30am. Lunch is at noon, with the NFPA providing the main course. If you wish, bring a side dish or desert to share.
For those of you who are new to this, 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.
As a convenience (it’s not required), I’m serving as a central point of contact for issues that North Fork organizations and individuals would like to see addressed by the various government agencies represented at the meeting. If you’ll send me your issues by the afternoon of Tuesday, June 29, I’ll pass them on to the various organizations in enough time for them to prepare their presentations. (Note: Please do not respond via Facebook. Use my email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.
The Badger-Two Medicine is sacred ancestral land of the Blackfeet Nation along the Rocky Mountain Front in northern Montana, just south of the Canadian border. Here, 8,000-foot limestone peaks notch the sky and pristine rivers cut through deep canyons before spilling out onto the rolling plains. These lands are home to the principal origin story of the Blackfeet people, who trace their creation to the headwaters of Badger Creek and Two Medicine River; and even today, one can still see the same sweeping vistas, find many of the same wild animals, such as grizzly bears, lynx, golden eagles and cutthroat trout, and hear the same sounds as those who lived here 10,000 years ago—as long as the Blackfeet people have been here. It’s home to the spiritual Medicine Grizzly and where tribal members still practice traditional ceremonies.
For years, the Blackfeet have been fighting to save the Badger-Two Medicine from the irreversible fate of development. And one tribal member, John Murray, 72, has spent the better part of his life protecting these lands from the threat of oil and gas extraction that’s hovered over them for nearly two decades—although attacks to Blackfeet homelands started long before that.
Blackfeet territory once spanned from present-day North Dakota, west to the Rocky Mountains, to the mouth of the Yellowstone River and up the Saskatchewan River to Lake Winnipeg, John begins. He is speaking to me from his office in Browning, Montana, (population just over 1,000) on the 1.5 million-acre Blackfeet Indian Reservation. His tone is measured, which puts listeners at ease, and gently commands full attention. John is a masterful storyteller, often bringing a tale in such a graceful circle that, after you’ve become so immersed in the story itself, you’re surprised to find he’s carried you back to the original point—and delivered you there with a much greater understanding than you had before. His desk is laden with mountains of paper, including the US Forest Service proposals and industrial projects on tribal land that require his immediate consultation. Outside, beyond Browning, winter melts from mountains that had been Blackfeet homelands for a geologic timespan that dwarfs rushed bureaucratic deadlines. “That was land that in our origins was what we called our world,” he says.
For more than a century, the core mission of the National Park Service has been preserving the natural heritage of the United States. But now, as the planet warms, transforming ecosystems, the agency is conceding that its traditional goal of absolute conservation is no longer viable in many cases.
Late last month the service published an 80-page document that lays out new guidance for park managers in the era of climate change. The document, along with two peer-reviewed papers, is essentially a tool kit for the new world. It aims to help park ecologists and managers confront the fact that, increasingly, they must now actively choose what to save, what to shepherd through radical environmental transformation and what will vanish forever.
“The concept of things going back to some historical fixed condition is really just no longer tenable,” said Patty Glick, a senior scientist for climate adaptation at the National Wildlife Federation and one of the lead authors of the document.
The North Fork Preservation Association(NFPA) is pleased to offer the Kreck/Fields Wilderness Scholarship to a graduate student at a Montana institution of higher education. The scholarship will be awarded annually to a student who is using their education to advocate and promote wilderness protection and preservation. This advocacy and promotion can be in the areas of public policy, literature, journalism or the arts. Specific fields of study can be but are not limited to wildlife biology, ecology, environmental studies, environmental law, journalism or the expressive arts.
The value of the scholarship is $1500, awarded annually. The distribution will go directly to the educational institution for tuition, fees, the acquisition of information technology or assigned books, journals and reports.
The 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.