Category Archives: Environmental Issues

Forest Service seeks input on the ‘Crystal Cedar’ Project

Crystal Cedar Project General Vicinity Map
Crystal Cedar Project General Vicinity Map

From the official press release . . .

The Hungry Horse-Glacier View Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest is asking for public input on management opportunities on National Forest System lands north of Columbia Falls and west of the Flathead River. This area includes Crystal Creek, Cedar Flats, Spoon Lake, Blankenship, and Teakettle Mountain.

The Crystal Cedar project aims to reduce hazardous fuels in the wildland-urban interface, improve the health and diversity of forest vegetation communities, and provide a range of trail-based recreation opportunities near the community of Columbia Falls.

The Flathead National Forest wants to hear from you. We want to understand how the community uses the area and what types of management you want to see. Comments are most helpful if provided by December 15, 2017.

More details about the Crystal Cedar project area, a map of the project area, and instructions on how to provide information to the district can be found online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=52844. The Web site also allows you to subscribe to electronic updates on the project so you can stay up to date on project development.

To find out more about the project, please contact Sarah Canepa, project team leader, at the Hungry Horse Ranger Station, 406-387-3800.

Conservation groups to sue Flathead Forest over road management

Lake in Flathead National Forest
Lake in Flathead National Forest

A coalition of conservation groups intends to sue the Flathead Forest over their management of logging roads . . .

In what may be the first shot fired over the bow of the soon-to-be-released new Flathead National Forest land use plan, three conservation groups filed intent to sue over management of the logging roads on the 2.4-million acre forest.

The groups claim the forest hasn’t met its obligations under the Endangered Species Act to protect threatened bull trout due to inadequate management and monitoring of logging roads, in particular the thousands of culverts that can fail and deposit sediment into trout streams.

Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Weber said that while he can’t comment on the pending lawsuit, he will say the water quality on the Flathead Forest is the most pristine of any place he’s worked before, including Alaska.

Read more . . .

A hero of the North Fork

John Frederick - by Steven Gnam
John Frederick – by Steven Gnam

Tristan Scott of the Flathead Beacon posted a lengthy article on the passing of John Frederick.

See also John’s obituary . . .

Anyone who knew John Frederick is mourning the passing of a man who stood out as a pillar of the North Fork, the wild and scenic river corridor tracking the boundary of Glacier National Park, where he played prominent roles as affable innkeeper and ardent activist, a pioneering preservationist and honorary mayor who fought mightily to protect a place that captivated him for more than four decades.

By all accounts, he succeeded.

Frederick died Nov. 15 after a long struggle with bladder cancer. He was 74.

In the days following his death, friends and neighbors have reflected on his legacy as the unofficial “Mayor of Polebridge,” a well-deserved honorific that won’t soon be bestowed elsewhere as Frederick’s spirit presides over his beloved community and the environmental safeguards he fostered.

Read more . . .

Protesters greet appearance by controversial land-use attorney

Grazing rights attorney Karen Budd-Falen’s presentation last Saturday was not exactly an unqualified success . . .

A controversial land-use attorney drew more than 100 protesters and as many supporters to Hamilton Middle School Saturday, but the topic of her talk with county residents was interpreted differently by people attending the event.

Karen Budd-Falen, the Wyoming-based grazing-rights lawyer leading President Donald Trump’s shortlist for Bureau of Land Management director, presented guidelines on land-use planning to Ravalli County residents.

Protesters characterized Budd-Falen as a supporter of privatizing public land, or at least supporting policies proven to lead to land sell-offs.

Read more . . .

Our NCDE grizzlies

Grizzly Bear - courtesy NPS
Grizzly Bear – courtesy NPS

Debo Powers, NFPA President, passed along the following information . . .

The Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) grizzly bear population is “The Heart of the Grizzly Nation.” This population is crucial to recovery in the rest of the lower 48 populations. As the federal government moves toward delisting these magnificent creatures, we need to become informed.

Dr. David Mattson is building a website intended to bring together much of the information that is known about grizzlies, including demography, diet and habitat, and conservation: https://www.mostlynaturalgrizzlies.org.

There will be a meeting of the NCDE Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee in Missoula on November 29 from 9:00am to 4:00pm. There will be updates from various agencies working on the grizzly bear recovery plan and a time for public comment at the end of the meeting.

Missoulian: North Fork bids goodbye to wildland advocate Frederick

John Frederick on his horse Skippy - photo by Kristian Denny
John Frederick on his horse Skippy – photo by Kristian Denny

Rob Chaney of the Missoulian posted an excellent article on yesterday’s passing of John Frederick. Rob put a lot of work into this on very short notice.

See also John’s obituary . . .

Friends of John Frederick mourn the passing of a man equally persuasive with grizzly bears on his screened porch and politicians pestering his beloved Polebridge.

The longtime advocate of all wild things along the North Fork of the Flathead River died of bladder cancer on Nov. 15. He was 74.

“We were friends, notwithstanding our opinions on natural resource things,” frequent debating foe Larry Wilson said Frederick. The two North Fork neighbors were famous for arguing opposite sides at public meetings and then carpooling home together.

Read more . . .

HHN: John Frederick, the ‘Mayor of Polebridge’ dies

John Frederick, North Fork Hero
John Frederick, North Fork Hero

Chris Peterson of the Hungry Horse News posted a nice tribute to John Frederick this week.

See also John’s obituary . . .

John Frederick, a North Fork icon, died on Wednesday morning after a long illness. He was 74.

Frederick, who was often referred to as the “Mayor of Polebridge” was one of the founding members of the North Fork Preservation Association in 1982. The association opposed the paving of the North Fork Road and promoted protection of the North Fork of the Flathead River from proposed coal mining operations in the Canada, a fight that lasted decades. He served as president for more than 30 years.

Frederick was an environmental advocate from an early age. In a 2001 Hungry Horse News interview, he recalled starting a group as a young man in his native Ohio called the “Waste Watchers.”

Read more . . .

Grizzly delisting not a simple decision

Grizzly bear recovery zones - US Fish and Wildlife Service
Grizzly bear recovery zones – US Fish and Wildlife Service

Here’s a good overview article from the Daily Inter Lake discussing the complexity of the upcoming decision on delisting grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem . . .

For four years, research ecologist Tabitha Graves has studied grizzly bears at the U.S. Geological Survey’s NOROCK West Glacier Field Station.

The hulking ursines bring more than tourists to Northwest Montana. “They have a pretty big role in this ecosystem,” she told the Daily Inter Lake. “We don’t often think about these kinds of details, but they disperse a lot of seeds, [and] they dig a lot,” helping circulate nutrients through the forest floor.

Understanding their benefits requires estimating the number of bears in the region – no easy task in a 16,000-square-mile “demographic monitoring area.” Graves and her colleagues add barbed wire to the tree trunks that bears rub along, then have the hair they collect DNA-sequenced, gaining a sense of which individual bears frequent which spots.

Read more . . .

Diane Boyd talks about wolf recovery and protection

Collared Wolf - courtesy USFWS
Collared Wolf – courtesy USFWS

Diane Boyd gave a well-received presentation last Wednesday during a seminar hosted at the University of Montana W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation . . .

A lot of people talk about the important role federal and state lands play in protecting wolves, but Diane Boyd, a wolf and carnivore specialist, said those public landscapes often are at high elevation and don’t harbor wintering populations of deer and elk.

In fact, the scientist said Wednesday that wolves need both private and public lands protected, and the private swaths are critically important.

“They hold the key, in addition to the federal lands, to maintaining grizzly bears, wolves, elk, deer, everything,” Boyd said.

Read more . . .

Rock Creek Mine gets cautious, partial approval

Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby
Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby

Hecla Mining’s proposed Rock Creek Mine near the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness received partial approval from the US Forest Service — enough to build an adit and do some environmental work. By and large, this is a victory for opposition environmental groups . . .

Opponents and proponents of a proposed copper and silver mine in Sanders County are both celebrating after the U.S. Forest Service announced it would issue only a partial approval for the project in an upcoming Record of Decision.

Conservation groups say that the decision to withhold a full development permit for the Rock Creek Mine proves that a massive industrial project should not be developed beneath a wilderness area for fear that it will dewater the land above. But officials with Hecla Mining Company, the Coeur d’Alene-based mining company heading up the project, said that a phased approval has always been part of the plan.

In a letter dated Oct. 31, Deputy Regional Forester David E. Schmid announced that the final Record of Decision would only approve phase 1 of the Rock Creek Project, allowing the construction of a mine adit and an environmental evaluation of the site, which is located near Noxon.

Read more . . .