Category Archives: Photos & Images

“Era of Megafires” presentation, April 25, 6:00pm

Era of Megfires poster
Era of Megfires poster

From the official press release . . .

Wildfire plays an important and integral role in our forested ecosystems. Local fire history records show that our forests have evolved with fire for thousands of years. We have successfully suppressed 98% of wildfires in the greater Flathead Area since approximately 1930, and the resulting accumulation of fuel creates an environment conducive to large fire growth. It’s important for our community to understand wildfire and promote a proactive approach to mitigating impacts to our communities; private property, airshed, watersheds and forest ecosystems.

On April 25th, the community is invited to a public event and conversation at the Flathead Valley Community College, Arts and Technology Building Room 139 at 6:00 p.m., for an “Era of Megafires” presentation. This 70-minute multi-media traveling presentation by Dr. Paul Hessburg, will help our community understand the issues surrounding Megafires, so collectively we can move toward solutions that can change the way we receive wildfire and related smoke. Dr. Hessburg has conducted fire and landscape ecology research for more than 27 years.

The “Era of Megafires” presentation will be followed by a question and answer session around topics that are relevant to the community in order to identify local challenges and local actions. Typically, different communities face different obstacles when it comes to wildfire preparedness and resilience.

The intent of this presentation is to significantly reduce the amount of loss we are experiencing by developing a collective understanding of fire, approaches to wildfire management, and how landowners can engage.

The “Era of Megafires” is brought to you by Flathead Area FireSafe Council, Northern Rockies Fire Science Network; Southwestern Crown Collaborative, Montana DNRC/Kalispell Unit; Flathead National Forest, Flathead Valley Community College and FireSafe Montana. For more information, contact Mike West, Flathead National Forest at 758-3939, or Ali Ulwelling, MT DNRC at 751-2270.

Polebridge Field Course presentation a big success

Polebridge Field Course presentation atendees, Jan 16, 2017
Polebridge Field Course presentation attendees, Jan 16, 2017

Every year, Rick and Suzie Graetz of the University of Montana bring the Polebridge Field Course to the North Fork. For the “field” part, the class spends five days up here, learning about the landscape, the species that live on it (including humans), its geology and history. At the end of the first full day, there is a presentation at Sondreson Community Hall that includes a lot of spectacular photos and considerable interaction between students and locals.

Rick Graetz at the Polebridge Field Course presentation, Jan 16, 2017
Rick Graetz at the Polebridge Field Course presentation, Jan 16, 2017

Here’s Lois Walker’s report on the event, lightly edited…

The Graetz’s gave another splendid presentation last Monday, January 16. It was the best yet, I believe. Suzie presented a 10-year retrospective slideshow, with photos from all their classes — lots of familiar faces and locations. Rick’s show featured breathtaking photos from around the Crown of the Continent. They had a reporter and a photographer from the Missoulian in tow, as well as Dr. Hal Stearns, a Montana historian, retired brigadier general from the Montana National Guard and husband of the current University of Montana president, who gave a rousing introduction. I believe there were 18 class members, plus a few associate students, plus the staff. The locals in attendance brought the total up to around 50. And of course Oliver Meister was present as the gracious host. There was a huge decorated chocolate cake in honor of the 10th anniversary. Another very nice evening on the North Fork.

Note: There were actually four speakers. Lois forgot to mention that she gave a brief overview of North Fork history on very short notice near the beginning of the program.

More photos of the presenters . . .

Suzie Graetz at the Polebridge Field Course presentation, Jan 16, 2017
Suzie Graetz at the Polebridge Field Course presentation, Jan 16, 2017
Polebridge Field Course presentation attendees, Jan 16, 2017 - Dr. Hal Stearns at left
Polebridge Field Course presentation attendees, Jan 16, 2017 – Dr. Hal Stearns at left

Must see! 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

Curious Lions by Kym Ilman
Curious Lions by Kym Ilman

National Geographic is running their annual photography contest. I cannot post samples here but, trust me, you really want to go check them out. There are some truly spectacular photos among the submissions so far and the contest still has several weeks to run.

Twisted Sifter has some highlight photos on their site with links to more.

Photos of all 59 parks in 59 weeks

Logging Lake in Glacier National Park, USA - National Park Service
Logging Lake in Glacier National Park, USA – National Park Service

So, these two guys quit their jobs and headed out to take photos of all 59 U.S. national parks in 59 weeks. Their web site already has an impressive collection of photos . . .

This summer, the National Park Service turns 100. It’s safe to say that lots of Americans will be celebrating by visiting a national park.

But two friends — Darius Nabors and Trevor Kemp — are marking the occasion by visiting all of them.

That’s 59 parks, from Joshua Tree to Shenandoah, and from remote Alaskan wilderness to Virgin Island beaches. And Nabors and Kemp are crossing them off the list in 59 weeks.

They quit their jobs to make the journey, which is partially crowd-funded, and are documenting the process on their website,

Read more . . .

The photos that inspired the creation of that occupied Oregon refuge

Crane Faces - Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge wasn’t widely known beyond the birding community until it acquired its current “Y’all Qaeda” infestation. Here’s some background, from NPR . . .

The armed militants occupying Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Oregon come from as far away as Texas and Montana. But they are hardly the refuge’s first out-of-state visitors. Malheur Lake is a regional hub for hundreds of thousands of migrating waterfowl. By some measures, it boasts the greatest diversity of bird species in the entire state.

A century ago, that diversity attracted the attention of naturalist William Finley. He visited the lake in 1908 with his childhood friend and photography partner, Herman Bohlman. In an article in The Atlantic Monthly, Finley recalled: “Here we were standing on the high head-land looking out over the land of our quest. Here spread at our feet was a domain for wild fowl unsurpassed in the United States.”

Finley was so ecstatic that he fell out of his boat.

Read more . . .

Death and life in the North Fork

Here’s a fascinating and moving video created by Henry Roberts from a series of game cam photos taken by North Forker Ray Brown. Thanks to Walter Roberts (no relation to Henry, I’d guess) for getting up on Facebook and giving this work the publicity it deserves. The sound track is from music by Josh Woodward. Highly recommended . . .

In February of 2014, Ray Brown of Polebridge, Montana came home to discover that wolves had killed an elk just off his driveway.

He set up a game camera near the carcass to see who might come back for it.

Three weeks went by.

The following photos are what he found — the inhabitants of the forest that helped return the carcass to the ecosystem.

Direct link to the video:

NFPA honors John Frederick for decades of service

Debo Powers (the new NFPA President, by the way) wrote the following report on last Saturday’s NFPA annual meeting. Interspersed with her article are several pictures of the event submitted by myself and Debo. If you weren’t there …well, you should have been. Everyone had a good time.

On Saturday night, John Frederick stepped down as President of the North Fork Preservation Association (NFPA) after more than three decades of leadership in this environmental organization which was founded in 1982. Following a potluck supper, a crown which said “North Fork Hero” was placed on John’s head.  The crowd of around 50 people listened while various NFPA members spoke about John’s contributions to the North Fork, told stories about John, and read email appreciations from other members who could not attend.  John was also given a plaque by the NFPA.

John has been an “environmental warrior” on many issues that have threatened the North Fork in the past three decades.  One of his major feats was buying ten shares of Rio Algom (a Canadian mining company) stock and traveling six times to stockholder meetings in Toronto to speak in opposition to the proposal to build a coal mine north of the border that would threaten the water quality of the North Fork of the Flathead River.  That coal mine was never built.  This was one of the many stories told about John’s activism.

John suffers through lots of people saying nice things about him
John suffers through lots of people saying nice things about him
Frank Vitale says his piece
Frank Vitale says his piece
John receives his plaque
John receives his plaque

After John’s “appreciation fest,” there was a short NFPA meeting in which officers and board members were elected.   The new officers are:  Debo Powers (President), Randy Kenyon (Vice President), Suzanne Daniell (Secretary), and Kelly Edwards (Treasurer).  Annemarie Harrod and Steve Gniadek were re-elected to the board and John Frederick will remain on the board as the Past President.  Those who will remain on the board for another year are Frank Vitale, Cameron Naficy, Alan McNeil, and Walter Roberts.

Every year following the annual NFPA meeting, there is an informative speaker who is invited to talk about a topic of local interest.  This presentation is open to the entire North Fork community, so others began to arrive after the meeting.  The NFPA speaker this year was Daniel Stiffarm, a Kootenai tribal member who is the acting director of the Kootenai Cultural Committee on the Flathead Reservation. He spoke about Kootenai history, culture, and language.   Daniel comes regularly to the North Fork which was part of the Kootenai Territory that was used for hunting and vision quests.  North Forkers learned much about Kootenai language and traditions including the Kootenai names of many familiar mountains in the North Fork.  Daniel was asked many questions which he graciously answered.

Daniel Stiffarm giving his presentation
Daniel Stiffarm giving his presentation
Daniel Stiffarm drew a big crowd
Daniel Stiffarm drew a big crowd

NYT: Climate change threatens to strip the identity of Glacier National Park

This morning’s New York Times has a survey article — with a photo spread — discussing the potential impact of climate change on Glacier National Park specifically and the Northern Rockies in general . . .

What will they call this place once the glaciers are gone?

A century ago, this sweep of mountains on the Canadian border boasted some 150 ice sheets, many of them scores of feet thick, plastered across summits and tucked into rocky fissures high above parabolic valleys. Today, perhaps 25 survive.

In 30 years, there may be none.

Read more . . .