Tag Archives: NFLA

North Fork wildfire mitigation meeting July 10

There’s a big informational presentation on fire mitigation coming up July 10, sponsored by the North Fork Landowners Association.

Larry Wilson turned over his monthly column to Molly Shepherd to announce the meeting and provide background . . .

On July 10, the North Fork Landowners Association will host the biggest educational/informative meeting of the year. From 9:30 a.m. to noon, there will be an educational program on wildfire.

When I asked Molly Shepherd, chairperson of the Fire Mitigation Committee, for information, she wrote an excellent report and it follows as she wrote it. Thanks Molly.

Ten years ago, on July 18, 2003, a lightning strike in the Whitefish Range ignited the Wedge Canyon Fire. Before the fire finally died out in the fall, it had destroyed seven homes and 29 outbuildings between Whale Creek and Trail Creek. A total of 54,400 acres burned. The costs of fighting the fire and protecting structures exceeded $50 million.

The Wedge Canyon Fire was only one of many large wildfires that have burned across the North Fork Valley. Indeed, fire has been second only to glaciation in shaping the valley’s landscape. But because of its cost, destructiveness and duration, Wedge Canyon served as a catalyst for change. The North Fork Landowners Association appointed a diverse committee to explore what might be done to mitigate the effects of future wildfires.

Members of the Fire Mitigation Committee reached several understandings based on the North Fork’s fire history and the probability of future fires. One was that it’s safer, cheaper and more effective to abate hazards before a fire starts. Another was that although landowners have neither the ability nor the desire to eliminate fire from the valley, we can and should ameliorate the risks that it poses to our homes and the costs associated with defending them.

Since the time of the Wedge Canyon Fire, the committee has obtained three grants from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to help North Fork landowners reduce hazardous fuels on their properties. Response to the voluntary cost-sharing program has been remarkable.

The first two grants resulted in more than 100 home wildfire inspections with treatment prescriptions. Fuels reduction work was completed under about 100 separate cost agreements. At least 500 acres of private property were treated with grant money. Probably even more acres were treated without any financial assistance. Projects funded by the third grant are underway, several of which seek to protect multiple homes and to afford safe ingress and egress for landowners and firefighters.

Private fuel treatments are just part of the story, however. Only about 14,500 acres — less than three per cent of the total acreage in the North Fork Valley — are in private hands. Given this reality, the Fire Mitigation Committee decided that landowners needed to collaborate with federal and state agencies to reduce risk.

The agencies were receptive. Our shared premise has been that public and private efforts should complement one another, with homes being the focal point. Both the Forest Service and the DNRC have planned and implemented major fuels reduction projects in consultation with the committee and other landowners. It’s been a model of public and private partnership, leveraging the effectiveness of one another’s efforts.

This month, the Fire Mitigation Committee will sponsor a workshop marking the 10th anniversary of the Wedge Canyon Fire. We’ll look back to conditions at the time of the fire, assess what’s changed in the intervening 10 years, and consider the potential effects of the changes on future fires. The event will serve as our annual Firewise Day.

Presenters will include Wally Bennett, who was one of the Type 1 incident commanders during the Wedge Fire. He’ll share his perspectives on the fire and on how subsequent fuels reduction projects might affect future fire behavior and suppression efforts.

In addition, committee member Allen Chrisman will examine North Fork fire history and climate change; Michael Dardis will discuss fuels projects undertaken by the Forest Service since the time of the Wedge Canyon Fire; Brian Manning will do the same on behalf of the DNRC; and Angela Mallon and Bill Swope will review what’s been accomplished with the help of grants and touch upon some ongoing concerns, among them ingress and egress.

The North Fork Firewise Day workshop will be held on Wednesday, July 10, from 9:30 a.m. to noon in Sondreson Community Hall. The Firewise morning will be followed in the afternoon by the semi-annual Interlocal Meeting, where county, state and federal agencies will report on their North Fork activities. We hope to see you then.


Larry Wilson: North Fork fall activities slated

Larry discusses upcoming fall North Fork activities . . .

The ground squirrels have withdrawn to their winter quarters, there’s fresh snow on the mountains in Glacier Park, and the lone quaking aspen in my meadow is nearly one-third bright yellow. Also, orange paint is being sprayed on trees up and down the road. There are even a few folks with blackened faces and camo clothing, armed with bows and arrows, creeping around in the woods.

Due to freezing nights and cooler days, I’m starting to take wood out of the woodshed to warm the cabin. A heavy rain this week probably ended the risk of a major North Fork wildfire until next summer. Sure signs of fall.

Continue reading . . .

Larry Wilson: Red saplings aren’t dying

Larry discusses what is causing a lot of young lodgepole pine to turn red, admires the work being done on the road and brings us up to date on NFLA activities . . .

Federal and state forestry offices and several retired foresters have been inundated with calls from concerned North Fork residents in the last couple of weeks.

Young lodgepole pine, regeneration from the Wedge Canyon and Robert fires of 2003 seemed to be dying. The saplings, mostly three feet in height or less, were turning red in large numbers and appeared to be dead or dying. Thus the many calls and visits to foresters.

From what I can gather, all the foresters agree. The disease is called Liphodermella needlecast and generally shows up one year after a moist to wet spring — like we had last year. Fortunately, it looks worse right now than it really is. Unless it occurs for an extended period, it seldom kills trees.

Continue reading . . .

Giving the North Fork Patrol their due

We got a note the other day from Mark and Margaret Heaphy who are, respectively, the Chairman and Secretary/Treasurer of the North Fork Patrol, the people who will, on request, help keep an eye on landowner property.

The North Fork Patrol has a small problem. Since the North Fork Landowners’ Association doesn’t send out a fall newsletter anymore (it only sends out one in the springtime), folks have tended to forget to contribute to the North Fork Patrol. Although you don’t need to be an NFLA member to have property “patrolled,” the newsletter served as a reminder and also as a signup form for the patrol.

So, if you desire the services of the North Fork Patrol, the Heaphys are encouraging you to sign up at any time. (Now would be a good time.) If you are an NFLA member, you can use the form in the Spring newsletter. The sign-up form is also available on the NFLA website. Payment is good for one year from when paid, regardless of when that is. If there are any questions about your current status on the patrol or when you last paid, please contact Margaret Heaphy.

For those of you not familiar with the North Fork Patrol, here’s the official description from the NFLA website: “The North Fork Patrol, with the written permission of a landowner, will check a property for evidence of trespass, illegal entry or poaching. All suspected illegal activity will be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency . . . In addition to checking properties, the patrol offers a reward of up to $500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of someone perpetrating trespass or property damage. A signed application is required to participate.”

Patrol sign-up is only $10, folks — chump change for someone to keep an eye on your place if you’re not around. And, in case you missed it the first time, you can grab a sign-up form here.

Winter North Fork Interlocal meeting scheduled for February 15

The winter Interlocal meeting is scheduled for February 15. Here’s the official announcement from the North Fork Landowners’ Association website . . .

The 2012 North Fork Winter Interlocal will be hosted by Glacier National Park February 15, 2012 at the Glacier National Park Headquarters’ Community Building in West Glacier. The meeting will take place from 10am-1pm and include updates from all of the North Fork organizations and local agencies. Agencies planning to present include Glacier National Park, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the Flathead National Forest, the US Border Patrol, State Lands, Flathead County and others.

If you already have questions that you would like to ask, send them to contact@nflandowners.org and we’ll pass them along to the event organizers. Giving the presenters an opportunity to prepare in advance always helps ensure that the best information is provided.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear what is happening in our area and exchange ideas. For more information about who will be participating, see the draft meeting agenda here.

Larry Wilson: History committee gearing up

Larry Wilson’s column this week discusses the  recently-formed NFLA History Committee, tasked with preserving the history of the North Fork . . .

The North Fork Landowners Association has established a history committee, and their current project is to do oral interviews with North Fork old timers. It’s too bad the project cannot include original homesteaders of the area, all of whom have now passed over the Great Divide. Good thing is that today’s old timers knew the homesteaders.

That knowledge, coupled with the written interviews of homesteaders done by the Forest Service, Park Service and Hungry Horse editor Mel Ruder, should make a more complete picture of North Fork history from homestead days up to the 1960s.

Continue reading . . .

In a weed stomping mood? Now’s the time

If you are concerned about invasive plant species — noxious weeds — there are plenty of opportunities to do something about it within the next few weeks.

The North Fork Landowners’ Association has two “weed roundup” events scheduled. The first, on Tuesday, July 26, will concentrate on the area from the border to Ford Station; the second, Friday, August 19, will work from Ford to Polebridge. See the NFLA online calendar for details.

Glacier Park is also kicking off their second annual Noxious Weed Blitz on Thursday, July 28th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the West Glacier Community Building. You get training on weed identification, surveying and mapping. You also get a free lunch out of the deal. Here’s the core part of the press release announcing the event:

Participants will spend the morning learning how to identify five targeted invasive plant species. After lunch attendants will learn how to conduct invasive plant surveys and map the locations of invasive plants using GPS units. Attending the Blitz will give you the option to continue as a citizen scientist weed warrior during future hikes. The event is free and open to all ages. Lunch will be provided for those who sign up for the event. Please bring gloves for hand pulling weeds, footwear for hiking, and drinking water. To sign up or to find out about other invasive plant opportunities, please contact the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center at (406) 888-7986 or glac_citizen_science@nps.gov.

Read the full press release for more details.

Larry Wilson: Sondreson Hall built by volunteers

In this week’s Hungry Horse News column, Larry Wilson talks about the important role of volunteerism on the North Fork, with Sondreson Hall as a prime example . . .

A couple of weeks ago, I commented on all of the work done by the North Fork Landowners Association Board of Directors and the various committees. Their efforts have ensured a great season for social and educational activities.

To me, it is even more important that they have returned the landowners association to the original goals and values envisioned by the founders of the North Fork Improvement Association, the original landowners association.

Continue reading . . .

Larry Wilson: Parts of North Fork Road now impassable

In this week’s column for the Hungry Horse News, Larry Wilson reports on the condition of the North Fork Road — essentially impassable near the border — and on the high points of the recent North Fork Landowners Association meeting . . .

Yes, there is still concern that there could be flooding on the North Fork. No, it is not a certainty, and we just have to wait and see how fast the snow melts in the high country.

For all intents and purposes, the North Fork Road is now closed from just north of Joe Franchini’s driveway to the international border. There are two obstacles…

Continue reading . . .

Border patrol at Saturday NFLA meeting

Richard Wackrow sent out this reminder today. For background information, see the article “Border Patrol agents on North Fork to increase from four to 50-plus” published in this summer’s newsletter . . .

Just a reminder that David Abegglen, agent in charge of the Whitefish office of the Border Patrol (out of which the North Fork is patrolled), will be at the Saturday North Fork Landowners’ Association meeting. That’s 8 p.m. at Sondreson Hall.

This might be our last best chance before the February or July 2011 Inter Local Agreement meeting to ask him questions about Border Patrol operations on the North Fork.