All posts by nfpa

FRA looks to boost stewardship, safety & citizen science on the Flathead Wild & Scenic River

From our colleagues at the Flathead River Alliance . . .

Flathead Rivers Alliance (FRA) announces 2023 River Ambassador and River Recreation/Citizen Scientist volunteer program trainings ahead of float season to enhance river safety, stewardship and citizen science, on the Three Forks of the Flathead River.

FRA is ramping up for the 2023 river season and recruiting 20-30 volunteer team members! Are you passionate about the river system that inspired a national protected Wild and Scenic River system and want to be an active stakeholder or citizen scientist? In anticipation of another record river user year for the Three Forks of the Flathead River, FRA is expanding their River Ambassador and River Recreation Monitoring/Citizen Scientist volunteer programs. River Ambassador training will be offered April 18th 6:00-8:00 PM and River Recreation/Citizen Scientist training April 27th 6:00-8:00 PM at Glacier Outdoor Center, in West Glacier. Trainings are conducted in partnership with FRA, Glacier National Park, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Flathead National Forest. These partners are invested in river users having an enjoyable and safe experience, while ensuring the river system’s outstanding remarkable values are protected. Dinner will be provided, so please RSVP so we can plan accordingly.

Continue reading at the FRA website . . .

County seeks federal funding to potentially pave lower North Fork Road

North Fork Road in Fall - USFS
North Fork Road in Fall – USFS

In case you missed it . . .

Flathead County applied for funding, which they more or may not get, to pay for a study on whether or not the lower North Fork Road could be paved.

Heading north out of Columbia Falls towards the North Fork corridor along the Flathead River is one of the most scenic, enjoyable drives in Northwest Montana, that is, until just after mile post 12, where the pavement ends. Then drivers and passengers are subjected to a slow, teeth-rattling and dusty ride in order to access two popular entrances to Glacier National Park, more than 100,000 acres of national forest land and the Wild and Scenic North Fork Flathead River.

That may change in the next few years, however, as Flathead County recently applied for a nearly $6 million Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) grant to begin the preliminary environmental evaluation and public involvement process looking at the feasibility of paving 10 miles of the North Fork Road to the intersection of Camas Road. The funding would also cover roughly two-and-a-half miles of road improvements as a first phase of the full corridor improvement project.

The North Fork Road (NFR) stretches from the north end of Columbia Falls to the Canadian border, passing from state to county jurisdiction just past mile post 12, where it transitions from pavement to a gravel road. Other than a brief half-mile of pavement, there is a 10-mile stretch of dirt road until the intersection with Camas Road, a turnoff that leads to Glacier National Park.

Continue reading . . .

Tester: Forest Service ‘found a loophole,’ ‘cut a deal’ on Holland Lake Lodge expansion

Holland Lake - USFS
Holland Lake – USFS

Senator Tester doesn’t have a clear understanding of categorical exclusions, but he sure knows an end-run when he sees it…

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana grilled the chief of the U.S. Forest Service this week about its initial decision — since reversed — to give an expansion plan at Holland Lake Lodge an exemption from a thorough environmental review.

Tester said Congress meant that type of exemption — called a “categorical exclusion” — to be used for projects that protect communities from wildfires.

At least he wouldn’t have supported it for “making some corporation rich off our public lands,” Tester said.

Continue reading . . .

The missing lynx of Glacier Park

A Canada lynx caught on remote camera in Glacier National Park on Sept. 17, 2020 - Glacier NP
A Canada lynx caught on remote camera in Glacier National Park on Sept. 17, 2020 – Glacier NP

The Flathead Beacon had a nice article on the Canada lynx population in Glacier Park. John Waller, of course, gets a significant mention . . .

As a wildlife biologist studying rare and elusive carnivores in Glacier National Park, John Waller has spent much of his career trying to gain a better understanding of species that are genetically adapted to avoid human detection. In other words, whether he’s stalking wolverines, tracking grizzly bears or hounding fishers, Waller has grown accustomed to getting skunked in the field.

And yet, due in large part to his patience and tenacity, Waller’s trailblazing work has produced some of the best population estimates about the hardest-to-track critters, including a project he engineered 15 years ago to produce the first DNA-based population study of wolverines in Glacier.

“Ever since I started working here, my approach has been to kind of fill in our knowledge gaps and try to determine what we know and what we don’t know,” Waller said. “Typically, the things we don’t know, we don’t know for a pretty good reason — because they involve a species that’s difficult and expensive to monitor.”

Continue reading . . .

Montana FWP opens public scoping on proposed new wolf management plan

Gray Wolf - Adam Messer-Montana FWP
Gray Wolf – Adam Messer, Montana FWP

From the official press release . . .

HELENA – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) and conduct public scoping on a proposed action to develop a new wolf management plan.

The 2003 Montana Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and associated EIS were developed 20 years ago. Since then, new, and improved research, management tools and methods have been developed and incorporated into Montana’s gray wolf management strategy; however, they are not described in the 2003 Wolf Plan. Gov. Greg Gianforte asked FWP to create a new wolf management plan with broad public engagement due to the interest in wolf management across the state.

The new wolf management plan will include the latest science surrounding wolf management, better transparency on wolf management, and be easier to update in the future. More specifically, the new wolf plan will accomplish the following:

  • Articulate contemporary updates in wolf-related research;
  • Describe new and available wolf management tools and methods employed by FWP;
  • Provide FWP with the flexibility needed to incorporate new wolf management science and tools, as they become available;
  • Describe the public engagement process as new information related to evolving wolf management strategies in Montana becomes available.

FWP invites comment identifying potential significant environmental issues associated with the proposed action of creating a new wolf plan and in determining the appropriate scope of the EIS. Public input received during the scoping period will help FWP staff determine public interest, identify potential issues that would require further analysis, and may provide further insights for creating the new wolf plan.

FWP will conduct two virtual public scoping meetings for this EIS; public input will also be taken during these meetings. The meetings will be held:

  • April 4 from 6-8 p.m.
  • April 11 from 6-8 p.m.

Login information will be posted on the FWP website before the meetings.

The deadline for scoping comments is April 22. These comments will be used to help shape the new plan and analysis. FWP will open public comment for the draft EIS and draft plan once they are completed.

Scoping comments can be emailed to or mailed to:

Attention: 2023 Montana Wolf Management Plan EIS
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Wildlife Division
1420 East Sixth Avenue
Helena, MT 59620

For more information, visit

Alert: SB379 threatens North Fork zoning protections

[UPDATE! The hearing on SB379 is scheduled for Monday, February 20, at 10:00am! ]
Greetings NFPA members and keepers of the wild. We hope this message finds you well. We are writing today because we need your help! About 2 minutes of your time in total.
We just learned that Steve Fitzpatrick (SD 10) just introduced SB379, a bill that would prohibit existing and future minimum lot size zoning regulations beyond 3 miles of a municipality. Minimum lot sizes would be left up to the Montana DEQ based on septic/well permits (typically 1 acre). This bill stands in direct contrast of the North Fork’s 20 acre lot minimum that maintains the basic values like solitude and wilderness that brought us all here.

We are asking you to do two simple things:

  1. Call or email your senator, Carl Glimm, in opposition of SB379: (406) 751-7334 or
  2. Call 406-444-4800 and simply leave a message for all senate local government committee members in opposition of SB379.
  3. Okay, yeah we only said two, but if you have more time, you can testify as well!

Here are directions on how to testify. The hearing is now expected this coming Monday, February 20, at 1:00am. Testimony from North Fork landowners will be very helpful. Consider the talking points of our “Montana way of life, rural values, community character, keeping Montana like it is”, etc.

More folks to contact if you’re feeling hot: has more useful information.

NFPA submits comments to Montana FWP concerning their proposed statewide grizzly bear management plan

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

On January 29, NFPA submitted a set of detailed, science-based comments to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks concerning their proposed statewide grizzly bear management plan. There’s a lot of work and research distilled into these six pages, folks! Read ’em here…

Letter to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks commenting on the Montana Statewide Grizzly Bear Management Plan 2022, dated January 29, 2023. (PDF format)

Montana FWP seeks public comment on draft grizzly bear management plan, EIS

From the official press release (also see “FWP unveils draft statewide grizzly plans more information” at the Missoulian for more background)  . . .

UPDATE (Dec 16, 3:30pm): Deadline for comments extended! See FWP extends comment period on draft grizzly bear management plan, draft EIS.

Grizzly Bear - Montana FWP
Grizzly Bear – Montana FWP

Dec 6, 2022 12:14 PM

HELENA – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking public comment on a draft plan and environmental impact statement to guide the long-term management and conservation of grizzly bears across the state.

“For decades, FWP staff have worked with federal, tribal, and local partners, along with communities and landowners, to recover and then manage grizzly bear populations across much of Montana,” said FWP Director Hank Worsech. “This plan will put that experience into action and provide a framework for comprehensive management of grizzly bears in the state and ensure the populations remain sustainable and healthy into the future.”

The plan was informed by existing bear plans and conservation strategies for parts of the state, the federal recovery plan and the work of the Grizzly Bear Advisory Council, appointed under the previous administration in 2019.

Continue reading Montana FWP seeks public comment on draft grizzly bear management plan, EIS

Inside the experimental world of animal infrastructure

A black bear emerges from a wildlife underpass installed on the Flathead Reservation
A black bear emerges from a wildlife underpass installed on the Flathead Reservation

MIT Technology Review has a very informative long-form article on “animal infrastructure,” the bridges, underpasses and other structures and techniques being developed to deal with conflicts between animals and human activity . . .

In the mid-2000s, toads were meeting a gruesome end near Ede, an old, leafy town in the middle of the Netherlands. Local residents came to the rescue. For a few weeks each spring, the town erected a set of temporary fences along a kilometer or so of road, in an area where the animals crossed over from their winter habitat in the south to three breeding ponds in the north. When the toads hit the barrier, they’d hop sideways for a few meters until they dropped into a bucket, one of 36 pitfall traps that lined the fence.

Every day, volunteers would diligently carry the toads to the other side and send them on their way. It was a crude, somewhat laborious way of mitigating the hardship of being an amphibian in a world built for humans. But it was a lifeline that Ede residents were happy to provide for their warty neighbors—which, like so many other species worldwide, have suffered difficulties feeding, breeding, and migrating as their familiar landscape is carved apart by human infrastructure.

What followed has taken on the air of a cautionary fable among a small international community of ecologists and ecological designers…

Continue reading . . .