Tag Archives: Montana DNRC

New advocacy group to watchdog aquatic invasive species efforts

Flathead Lake
Flathead Lake

This is interesting.

Late last year, Montana DNRC managed to kill funding for the Flathead Basin Commission. The FBC had been getting a little too pushy, especially in regards to Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) prevention efforts. Well, it appears those annoying folks popped right back up as an independent organization named Watershed Protection Advocates . . .

A new player has emerged in the fight for the protection of the region’s waters, and next month the Watershed Protection Advocates of Northwest Montana will begin filling out its own “report card” on other agencies in the region.

The new advocacy group was formed by a number of former Flathead Basin Commission board members after the Flathead Basin Protection Fund pulled its financial support of the commission.

Watershed Protection Advocates is chaired by former Flathead Basin Commission chairperson Jan Metzmaker, and former Flathead Basin Commission Executive Director Caryn Miske is the sole contractor for the new advocacy group. Miske was terminated form her position on the commission in February following a series of allegations of misconduct made by Department of Natural Resources and Conservation officials.

Read more . . .

Pilot program to protect Flathead Basin from mussels threatened

Zebra Mussel Shells Cover a Lake Michigan Limestone Beach in Door County Wisconsin - PJ Bruno
Zebra Mussel Shells Cover a Lake Michigan Limestone Beach in Door County Wisconsin – PJ Bruno

This is an informative article about the issues surrounding invasive mussels in the Flathead Basin. Many of these problems are administrative, but the biggest one is not: DNRC Director John Tubbs wants to grab the money allocated to the Flathead Basin Commission and use it elsewhere . . .

A legislatively mandated pilot program designed to enhance protection from invasive mussels in the Flathead Basin is facing challenges on two fronts.

As part of HB 622, the Legislature gave the Flathead Basin Commission authority to establish and manage the Upper Columbia pilot program. The program would add more certification stations, track vessels that require decontamination, and add the use of automated inspection and detection devices.

The commission also could petition the state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt rules for the Flathead Basin that would require inspection of all vessels before they launch; prohibit or restrict some vessels, including waterborne airplanes and aquatic weed harvesters; and close waters where invasive mussels have been detected until a containment strategy was implemented.

Read more . . .

Coalition challenges Rock Creek Mine water permit

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

An environmental coalition is challenging the DNRC water permit for the Rock Creek Mine, one of two proposed mines near the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness . . .

A coalition of environmental groups is challenging the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s proposed decision to issue a water permit to the company hoping to build a massive copper and silver mine near Noxon.

The coalition, including the Clark Fork Coalition, Rock Creek Alliance, Earthworks and the Montana Environmental Information Center, has alleged that the Hecla Mining Company’s Rock Creek Mine would dewater streams within the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. The nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice represents the groups.

The formal objection was filed with the DNRC on Sept. 6.

Read more . . .

Montana’s wolf trapping plan draws big response

This year’s Montana wolf hunt proposal stirred things up a bit . . .

The public response to the plans for this year’s wolf hunt in Montana has been staggering: A whopping 6,500 comments have been received on the proposal set for approval Thursday by the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission.

That far outnumbers the 1,500 comments received on the 2011 wolf hunt plan and just about doubles the comments FWP took on last year’s hotly debated proposal to relocate Yellowstone National Park bison, agency officials said.

Driving the renewed interest is a proposal to expand the hunt to include trapping for the first time, along with bow and rifle seasons.

Continue reading . . .

Montana fire response coordinators to post updates on Twitter

The fire response folks at Montana DNRC are hoping to introduce a little 21st Century tech this year by announcing wildfire developments via Twitter . . .

Fire response coordinators in Montana will use the social media website Twitter this year for the first time as a way to update residents of wildfire developments such as road closures and evacuation notices…

“The goal is to be able to provide updates, particularly on initial attacks or extended attacks, when it’s a fast-moving situation,” Grassy said.

The updates from the Twitter page @MTDNRCFIRE, will be another tool used by the state to update wildfires in addition to telephone alert systems that can target homes and cellphones in specific geographic regions and the fire information website InciWeb.

Continue reading . . .

Montana DNRC, North Fork landowners to reduce fire hazard

There’s a nice bit of money in the pot for fuels reduction work this year . . .

A deal between the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the North Fork Landowners Association will keep the North Fork buzzing with chainsaws this spring in an effort to reduce flammable fuels throughout the area.

According to forester Bill Swope, nearly two-thirds of the area along the North Fork Road, between Camas Creek and the Canadian border, have been scorched by wildfire since 1988. Now much of that is regrowing and he said efforts must be made to thin underbrush, which will be the focus of a $100,000 grant from DNRC.

Continue reading . . .

Helicopter skiing proposal rejected — for now

From the Thursday, December 11, 2008 online edition of the Daily Inter Lake . . .

The Stillwater State Forest, citing considerable public opposition, has denied a request to allow helicopter skiing on parts of the Whitefish Mountain Range.

Brian Manning, manager of the Stillwater and Coal Creek state forests, said his office received 316 comments, most of them opposed to helicopter skiing.

“Their concerns mainly include the noise and effects to winter recreation; the adverse effects to various wildlife species; low-flying aircraft effects to adjacent landowners and the potential for trespass on federal lands,” Manning wrote in a letter to Triple-X Helicopter and Valhalla Adventures, two Whitefish businesses that proposed helicopter skiing operations on specific parts of the Coal Creek and Stillwater forests.

Commercially guided ski trips were proposed at Winona, Coal and Stryker ridges on the two state forests.

Read the entire article . . .

Keep heli-skiing out of North Fork

John Frederick’s letter to Nicole Stickney of the Montana DNRC regarding the proposal to conduct heli-skiing on state lands in the Whitefish Range appeared in today’s Hungry Horse News in the Letters section . . .

I can sympathize with the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation in trying to find money through the school trust lands for Montana schools. It is not easy to balance environmental and social concerns while trying to get big bucks for the schools.

The two proposed locations for heli-skiing in Coal Creek State Forest are rather close to Polebridge. Winona Ridge, one of the proposed landing/skiing sites, is a little less than three and a half miles from Polebridge and roughly parallels the North Fork Road at a distance of 3/8 of a mile to almost a mile away. It is also not a high mountain which means more noise from helicopters. The other proposed, nearby skiing location is Coal Ridge which at the closest point is only four miles southwest of Polebridge.

I hope you can now understand why people become upset about heli-skiing or any frequent use of helicopters any time of the year when it is not an emergency. Most people, both residents and visitors, come to the North Fork for solitude and quiet.

Others have e-mailed you about the strong probability of people and wildlife being harassed by helicopters bringing skiers to places such as Winona Ridge in Coal Creek State Forest. Many other questions remain unanswered about the possibility of local heli-skiing.

What are the models, sizes and occupancies of the helicopters to be used? What are the decibels created by such machines? How far will the sound travel and be heard?

How many flights a day will be allowed? How many skiers? Triple X, one of the applicant helicopter companies, said they flew 260 helicopter flights over Whitefish during the fourth of July weekend. Hardly anyone wants that kind of activity in our state forests.

Would DNRC give permits to other companies who requested a similar permit?

What are the flight patterns? Do the helicopters go directly to the skiing location or do they swing over to Glacier Park for a scenic tour?

Has anyone at DNRC researched the location of bear dens in the vicinity of the flight paths?

How do the skiers return? By snowmobile or helicopter? And what is their route?

How much would you charge the operators of the helicopter skiing for a permit?

Has DNRC researched other locations in Alaska or British Columbia where heli-skiing has already taken place? Are there problems?

Heli-skiing has never been done in the Flathead Valley. Therefore, it might be a good idea to leave the comment period open for a while longer. There is a definite lack of information on the subject at this time.

Look at the Hungry Horse News article last week by Chris Peterson as it reflects the opinions of many North Forkers. There is a link to the article on the North Fork Preservation Association Web site (with new format) at www.gravel.org.

John Frederick of Polebridge is the North Fork Preservation Association president.

Comments regarding heli-skiing proposal

The recent proposal to allow heli-skiing on state lands in the Whitefish Range seems to be getting folks stirred up — enough so that the comment period has been extended to October 10.

A recent article in the Hungry Horse News provides a good overview of the the proposal and the circumstances surrounding it.

Comments should be directed to:

Nicole Stickney
Special Uses Forester
Stillwater State Forest
P.O. Box 164
Olney MT 59927

Or by email to nstickney@mt.gov

A great many of the comments submitted so far are from people concerned about wildlife disruption and other impacts in a particularly sensitive area. The following email, sent by Richard Andersen on September 30, is a good example . . .

Nicole Stickney
Special Uses Forester
Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
Stillwater Unit

Dear Nicole,

As a native Montanan and life-long resident of the Flathead, I am very concerned to know that helicopter skiing is being considered for the Whitefish Range.

Continue reading Comments regarding heli-skiing proposal

Companies seek permit for heli-skiing in North Fork

The Wednesday, October 1, 2008 online edition of the Hungry Horse News has a well-written article on the proposal for heli-skiing in the Coal Ridge and Stillwater State Forests . . .

Two local companies have brought proposals to the state for heli-skiing on state lands in the Whitefish Range.

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation sent out a scoping notice on Sept. 11 to property owners near the proposed areas of operation and to some government agencies. The deadline for comment has been extended to Oct. 10.

Read the entire article . . .