Tag Archives: paving

Feds won’t fund North Fork Road paving study

North Fork Road in Fall - USFS
North Fork Road in Fall – USFS

The expected result, but still good to know for certain . . .

Flathead County did not receive federal funding for an environmental analysis to look at paving a portion of the North Fork Road, county public works director Dave Prunty confirmed Monday.

The county sought Federal Lands Access Program monies to do a National Environmental Policy Act review of improving the road from just north of Glacier Rim to the Camas Road entrance to Glacier National Park earlier this year, but the analysis wasn’t funded.

Continue reading . . .

County seeks federal funding to potentially pave lower North Fork Road

North Fork Road in Fall - USFS
North Fork Road in Fall – USFS

In case you missed it . . .

Flathead County applied for funding, which they more or may not get, to pay for a study on whether or not the lower North Fork Road could be paved.

Heading north out of Columbia Falls towards the North Fork corridor along the Flathead River is one of the most scenic, enjoyable drives in Northwest Montana, that is, until just after mile post 12, where the pavement ends. Then drivers and passengers are subjected to a slow, teeth-rattling and dusty ride in order to access two popular entrances to Glacier National Park, more than 100,000 acres of national forest land and the Wild and Scenic North Fork Flathead River.

That may change in the next few years, however, as Flathead County recently applied for a nearly $6 million Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) grant to begin the preliminary environmental evaluation and public involvement process looking at the feasibility of paving 10 miles of the North Fork Road to the intersection of Camas Road. The funding would also cover roughly two-and-a-half miles of road improvements as a first phase of the full corridor improvement project.

The North Fork Road (NFR) stretches from the north end of Columbia Falls to the Canadian border, passing from state to county jurisdiction just past mile post 12, where it transitions from pavement to a gravel road. Other than a brief half-mile of pavement, there is a 10-mile stretch of dirt road until the intersection with Camas Road, a turnoff that leads to Glacier National Park.

Continue reading . . .

Park reiterates opposition to North Fork Road paving and concerns over rail shipments

Jeff Mow, Superintendent of Glacier National Park, reiterated the park’s opposition to North Fork Road paving and expressed a lot of concern over the safety of oil shipments along the park’s boundary . . .

Glacier National Park superintendent Jeff Mow said last week he is not in favor of paving the North Fork Road to the Camas Road, a project strongly supported by Columbia Falls city officials.

The goal of paving the North Fork Road has been debated for years, but now Columbia Falls business and civic leaders are pitching the idea not only to boost tourist traffic through town but as an emergency route for West Glacier in case of a rail disaster.

City leaders told Sen. Jon Tester on March 20 that the Park supports paving the North Fork Road, but Mow disagreed.

Read more . . .

Pro-paving letter misquotes water quality study

It seems we can’t let a month go by without saying something about the road.

Anyway, if you are going to use science to support your position, it’s best to ensure you’re using it properly or you run the risk of annoying an actual scientist. A recent letter to the editor in the Hungry Horse News promoting paving the North Fork Road drew the ire of Jack Potter for editorial misuse of an out-of-context quote. Jack, Glacier Park’s former chief of science and resource management, sent the following response . . .

Dear Editor,

A disturbing trend is the misuse of scientific information through misquoting, taking something out of context, or altering text on the internet and/or in the press.  In his letter to the editor, Ray Brown of a “pave the North Fork Road” group in the annual spring offensive, says to support his contention that road dust is polluting the North Fork, thus paving is necessary:

“In addition, according to the 2007-2008 U.S. Geological Survey of water quality in the North Fork of the Flathead River, co-author E. William Schweiger, Ph.D. ecologist, Rocky Mountain Network, National Park Service, wrote in part that nearly all of the major western tributaries of the North Fork have previously been listed on Montana’s 303d list of impaired streams for cold-water fisheries owing to sediment-loading associated with erosion of unpaved roads.”

Ray goes on to say:

“This last finding in interesting in that our own Glacier National Park superintendent, who should have had access to the survey, either never got the memo or disregarded it out of hand. Perhaps the best way for the Park to address an issue like water and air quality along their western boundary is to pretend there is no problem to begin with.”

In fact taken in context Dr. Schweiger and his coauthors say:

“Clear-cut timber harvesting activity was relatively widespread in the western tributaries of the North Fork Basin in Montana from 1960 to 2000 (Gildea and others, 2004). Currently (2011), nonintensive timber harvesting occurs throughout the Flathead National Forest on the western side of the North Fork Basin (Paul Donnellon, Operations – Timber Management Flathead National Forest, written commun., 2011). Additionally, population growth and related construction activities on private land in the western portion of the basin are of concern. Construction of access roads associated with residential development, and subsequent erosion of road material, can be a substantial source of suspended sediment to streams (Ahtiainen and Huttunen, 1999; Gildea and others, 2004). Waste material from forest harvesting and sewage effluent from residential developments can cause an increase in the concentrations of nutrients in receiving streams, resulting in a reduction in biodiversity and loss of species habitat (Harr and Fredriksen, 1988; Zampella, 1994; Carpenter and others, 1998; Hauer and others, 2007). Suspended sediment in spawning areas can cause a reduction in fish embryo survivorship (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, 2004).

Nearly all of the major western tributaries of the North Fork have been previously listed on Montana’s 303(d) list as impaired for cold-water fisheries owing to sediment loading associated with erosion of unpaved roads. Adoption of “Best Management Practices” for timber harvesting and forestry roads in the North Fork Basin, as well as reclamation of clear-cut areas, has greatly reduced the associated effects on water quality (Hauer and others, 2007). As a result, many of the western tributaries have been removed from Montana’s 303(d) list (Gildea and others, 2004). Existing and potential future residential development in the North Fork valley also is of concern. The western portion of the North Fork Basin in Montana has become increasingly popular as a vacation destination, and construction of vacation homes on private land in the North Fork valley has increased by about tenfold over the past 20 years (Hauer and others, 2007). These developments could affect the water quality and aquatic biology of the North Fork.”

The study doesn’t even come close to supporting Ray’s position, nor his fatuous statement about the park Superintendent.

If you  are interested in increasing your property values, maybe developing some of those hundreds of lots, or if you are a transplanted suburbanite living in Polebridge and want a smoother, faster commute, or you have a construction company in the North Fork as Ray Brown does, it would be better to be honest about paving.  Slow down, drive less.  With the uncertainty regarding the federal (dominion) coal blocks in the North Fork that were left out of the BC/Montana energy development moratorium, paving and subsequent development would be a great message to Canada, in addition to a long-term, irreversible, negative impact.  The National Park Service is correct in opposing paving.

Full citation of the above article:

From p. 2; Mills, T.J., Schweiger, E.W., Mast, M.A., Clow, D.W., 2012, Hydrologic, water-quality, and biological characteristics of the North Fork Flathead River, Montana, water years 2007–2008: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5221, 67 p.

Jack Potter
Columbia Falls, MT

Note: Jack Potter’s letter appeared on the Hungry Horse News web site almost immediately.

North Fork Road draft study released, discussed

Here’s the Flathead Beacon’s take on last Tuesday’s public open house to discuss the North Fork Road corridor study draft . . .

To pave or not to pave? The question of what to do with the North Fork Road was further debated Tuesday night in Columbia Falls. Residents, local business owners and Flathead County officials gathered at the Glacier Discovery Square to discuss the recently released draft of a $125,000 study on the corridor.

Read the full article . . .

Lack of money likely to deter North Fork Road paving plans — for now, at least

Here’s the Daily Inter Lake’s write-up on last Tuesday’s public open house to discuss the North Fork Road corridor study draft. If for no other reason, it’s worth reading for Flathead County Commissioner Jim Dupont’s pragmatic comments . . .

To pave or not to pave may not be the question.

Due to lack of money, Flathead County Commissioner Jim Dupont said the long-talked-about paving of the North Fork Road will not likely happen anytime soon unless the federal government decides to pay for it.

Read the full article . . .

Public comments sought on North Fork Road corridor study draft

This week’s Hungry Horse News has a good summary of last Tuesday’s public open house to discuss the North Fork Road corridor study draft.

Note that public comments are due by August 10. Send e-mail to mdtnffrteam@mt.gov or write to Lani Eggertsen-Goff, PB 488 E. Wincester Street, Suite 400, Murray, UT 84107. The draft corridor study can be viewed online at http://www.mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/northfork/. (Warning! Some big files.)

Here’s the lead-in from the HHN write-up . . .

The public was invited to give comment at the North Fork Flathead Road meeting Tuesday, July 27, which will be entered as part of the final Corridor Study Document.

At the meeting, representatives from Parsons Brinckerhoff — the group commissioned to conduct the study — answered questions.

Read the entire article . . .

Meeting scheduled to review draft North Fork Road corridor study

Here’s some more information on the upcoming public meeting on the North Fork Road corridor study from yesterday’s Daily Inter Lake . . .

An open-house-style meeting has been scheduled for the public to review and give comments on the corridor study of a portion of the North Fork Road.

The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27, at the Discovery Center at 540 Nucleus Ave., Columbia Falls. As an open-house style meeting, no formal presentation will be given.

Read the entire article . . .

Draft North Fork Road corridor study document is now available; meeting on July 27th

According to an email sent out yesterday afternoon by Pam Murray of PB Americas, the draft North Fork Road corridor study document is now available online and, for those of you traveling down-valley, on paper. (If you came late to the party, the corridor study is a $125K project looking at alternatives for improving the condition of the North Fork Road from Blankenship Road to Camas Junction.)

Ms. Murray said,

The draft corridor study document is now available for your review, please visit the website: http://www.mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/northfork/documents.shtml and if the link does not work you can find the document by going to the study webpage at http://www.mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/northfork/ From the menu on the left go to “documents” and then clicking section by section on the draft document.

The whole document is available as one file, however it is a very large file (over 20 M) and will probably time out for most people before the download is complete.

Paper copies of the draft corridor study document are also available at these locations:

  • The Columbia Falls Library, 130 6th  Street West
  • Flathead County Offices, 800 South Main Street, Kalispell
  • MDT Office, 85 5th Ave East North, Kalispell

Please review the draft corridor study document.  We also invite you to attend the public meeting on July 27, 2010 at Discovery Square, Sperry Auditorium anytime between 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm…

The purpose of the public meeting is to receive your comments on the draft corridor study document.  If you are unable to attend the meeting next week you can provide us comments on the draft corridor study document using the “comment on this study” link from the study webpage (see above link).

Additional information…

The entire current set of documents discussing the corridor study includes:

The following poster includes more information about the meeting on July 27th. Note this little item near the bottom: “For reasonable accommodations to participate in the meeting, please contact Paul Grant at 406/444.9415 at least two days before the meeting.” In other words, if you want to get up and say something, call ahead.

Corridor Study Announcement

Two environmental groups claim paving North Fork Road may violate law

The road. Again. This time, the National Parks Conservation Association and Earthjustice are weighing in.

From this week’s Hungry Horse News . . .

Two environmental groups have laid out a legal case against paving a section of the North Fork Road.

The National Parks Conservation Association and Earthjustice have submitted an eight-page letter detailing how paving the road would disturb Glacier National Park.

Read the full article . . .