A new Wild and Scenic River management plan for portions of the Flathead River, including the North Fork, is in the works . . .
One of the most noticeable changes in the North Fork Flathead River drainage can be found on the river — at its put-in and take-out sites for floaters — and it is a change that is in part driving an effort to develop a new Wild and Scenic River management plan…
Vehicles loaded with rafts, kayaks and canoes are now a far more common sight than they were in 1980, when the current river management plan was developed. That came on the heels of portions of the North, South and Middle forks of the Flathead River being designated as Wild and Scenic rivers in 1976.
“It’s pretty old,” Hungry Horse-Glacier View District Ranger Rob Davies said of the river management plan. “We’re not saying it’s bad. There are elements that are very good in that plan. We don’t want to throw it out and start from scratch. We want to figure out what needs to change, what elements of that plan need fixing.”
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The Flathead Beacon just posted another of their “Focusing on…” articles, this time discussing the challenges to the Flathead River Corridor from increasing recreational pressure, which is forcing consideration of a new river corridor plan. Recommended reading . . .
The rhythm of the North Fork flows to a mellow tempo, even as the steady thrum of traffic and the ever-present flotilla of rafts and kayaks sketch a clear portrait of the wild and scenic river corridor’s growth and popularity.
Dust clouds roll off this unpaved portion of Highway 486, also known as the North Fork Flathead Road, and the meter of traffic ticking along the western border of Glacier National Park has given rise to the need for a new river management plan.
Designated a National Wild and Scenic River in 1976, the three forks of the Flathead River amount to 219 miles of what everyone agrees is “a very special place,” says Rob Davies, the Flathead National Forest’s district ranger for the Hungry Horse/Glacier View district. The North Fork Flathead River is protected by that designation, while its eastern tributaries and uplands are tucked away in Glacier Park. Its Canadian headwaters are protected by a provincial ban on mining and drilling, and U.S. Sen. Max Baucus has introduced legislation that would prohibit new energy and mineral development on the nearly 400,000 acres of the North Fork watershed within the Flathead National Forest.
Still, public land managers say the river corridor is being impacted by increased use, and have been collecting data to inform the future of the river corridor, while calling on the public to help adopt a new management strategy for recreational use.
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