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.
The 2021 edition of the NFPA’s “Living with Wildlife” brochure is available online. This publication, authored by wildlife biologist and researcher Diane Boyd and published by the NFPA, is highly recommended reading for anyone who lives near or interacts with our abundant local wildlife!
From the introduction:
The meadows, mountains and rivers of the North Fork are home to wildlife as well as humans who live and recreate in these areas. This interface can lead to conflict in which the wildlife usually loses. While private lands make up only 3% of the North Fork valley, they offer some of the best wildlife habitat. This brochure offers suggestions on how we can better coexist with our wildlife.
Heads up! It is Forest Service special use permit time again. Some of you may recall the kerfuffle over this last year, particularly when it came to guided ATV tours. There are a few more requests this year. There is a May 12 deadline for responses.
Here is an extract from a very useful note sent by Rob Davies, Hungry Horse/Glacier View District Ranger, that provides more focus on the projects affecting the North Fork . . .
This is a fairly large list of proposals for this summer. We are at the start of an open public comment period. Comment period closes May 12th. No decisions have been made at this point and we are seeking comments and concerns. This is being released to the local media today. Maps and descriptions have been posted on our web site.
The proposed Recreation Events and proposed guiding that would affect the North Fork area are:
Adventure Cycling Tours
Bike Adventure Bike tours
Pancake Ride bicycle event
Spotted Dog Guided bike tours
Snow Bike Nation (e-bikes)
Other than potential e-bike guiding on open FS motorized roads, and van shuttles (Whitefish Shuttle) delivering people to trail heads or just providing van tours, there are no motorized activities proposed such as UTV/ATV guiding in the North Fork.
Thank you for your interest and please respond through the official process outlined on our web site if you have concerns.
A decision on motorized boating on Tepee lake is due Thursday . . .
A final decision on restricting motorized boats on Tepee Lake in the North Fork area is among the top agenda items the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission will consider Thursday during an online meeting using the video conferencing platform Zoom.
According to a previous story in the Hungry Horse News, a group of landowners and stakeholders recently formally petitioned the commission to restrict the remote and fishless lake in the North Fork of the Flathead to manually powered boats only.
While there have been no conflicts to date, petitioners asked the commission to ban motorized use on the 43-acre lake. Tepee Lake is a small lake, which doesn’t support fish because of a lack of oxygen, but it does support a robust population of leeches, which the resident loons use, in part, to feed their young.
And all of a sudden, the robins are chirping from branches and geese are flying overhead at dusk. Happy Spring fellow North Fork fanatics. Although winter was seemingly short and forgiving, a lot happened even with the lack of hibernation motivation. And so, a winter report from your newly elected President.
First and foremost, one of our most cherished conservation colleagues, Dave Hadden of Headwaters Montana, retired, and in celebration of his lifetime achievements the NFPA Board awarded him with the Jack Potter Glacier National Park Stewardship Award. Just like all things wild, this award came full circle for Dave who has promoted local stewardship by giving away this award to hardworking colleagues for the last decade. The collaborative transboundary work Dave accomplished in his time at Headwaters Montana has perpetuated the historic watershed successes of the North Fork and for that, we are eternally grateful. As many of you know, the Headwaters Board decided to disband the organization with Dave’s retirement. NFPA is proud to be chosen to administer Headwaters scholarship funds going forward.
Our committed Board has been working hard over the winter with other local organizations to begin to address the tsunami of recreationists with the attendant negative local impacts now referred to as “Summergeddon”. Our outreach committee is working on educational resources for new landowners. A “Living with Wildlife” brochure will be distributed to the greater North Fork mailing list in collaboration with the NFLA. Bear News is being resurrected and out for print this Spring as well. We have booked an exceptional speaker for our annual meeting in July; look for more details in a future communication.
The 2021 winter North Fork Interlocal Agreement meeting will be held Thursday, March 4 at 9:00 a.m. The meeting usually lasts abut three hours. Due to the the ongoing pandemic, it will be a virtual meeting using the Zoom conferencing software.
The Interlocal Agreement provides for face-to-face contact (usually!) with representatives of agencies whose policies and actions affect the North Fork. Interlocal Agreement meetings are held in the winter (in town) and summer (at Sondreson Hall). Agency attendees include Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Montana Department of State Lands, U.S. Border Patrol, Glacier National Park, Flathead National Forest, U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service and Flathead County.
This is always a very interesting meeting, with reports from a range of government agencies and local organizations and often some quite vigorous discussion.