The next in a series of meetings on developing a comprehensive river management plan for the three forks of the Flathead River is scheduled for May16. It will be held from 6:00pm to 8:00pm, at the at the Heaven’s Peak room in the Cedar Creek Lodge, Columbia Falls.
Flathead Wild and Scenic River: Comprehensive River Management Plan Meeting to Discuss Water Quality
Kalispell, MT. May 3, 2018- The Flathead National Forest, in coordination and partnership with Glacier National Park, is in the process of preparing a comprehensive river management plan (CRMP) for the 3-forks of the Flathead River.
A series of resource-focused public meetings will be held over the next six months, beginning on May 16th. This meeting will focus on water quality conditions, management, and concerns as part of the efforts to develop the CRMP. The meeting will be held at the Heaven’s Peak room in the Cedar Creek Lodge, Columbia Falls, Montana. The meeting will be from 6 pm to 8 pm and include presentations on current water quality information and facilitated discussion on how water quality should be addressed in the CRMP. For those new to the comprehensive river management plan process, an introductory presentation on the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act will begin at 5:45 pm. Future meeting topics and a preliminary schedule will be posted on the Flathead National Forest website.
The CRMP will address the current status of the river and the surrounding resources, outline goals and desired conditions, determine user capacity and create a monitoring plan for the next 15 to 20 years. In order to reflect the diverse users of the river and surrounding lands, the public is encouraged to help craft the future management of this designated wild and scenic river to ensure the river and its outstanding resources are maintained and protected.
In case anyone wonders why it was so important to oppose resource extraction activities in the transboundary Flathead watershed, just take a look at events in the nearby Elk River drainage . . .
With renewed plans to expand coal-mining operations in southeastern British Columbia’s Elk River drainage, located upstream from one of Montana’s world-class transboundary watersheds, researchers and government agencies are intensifying scrutiny on environmental hazards spanning the border.
The concerns center on increasing amounts of coal waste byproducts leaching into the heavily mined Elk River and its many tributaries, which drain into two bodies of water shared by B.C. and Montana – Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River – both of which are showing increased levels of mining contaminants like selenium in the muscle tissue of fish species.
The USDA is kicking off a number of forest restoration project this year. There’s nothing major in this neighborhood, apparently, but that may change in subsequent years . . .
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday it will spend $30 million this year on forest restoration projects in 12 states to reduce the threat of wildfires, protect water quality and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.
Those first 13 projects will be the start of a multi-year initiative to improve the health of forests and watersheds on public and private lands, Agriculture Undersecretary Robert Bonnie said.
With longer fire seasons in recent years burning more areas, and beetle outbreaks devastating more than 40 million acres of forests in the West, the pace and scale of restoration need to be increased, he said.
Your friendly web-slinger was away on an extended road trip, so we’re playing catch-up. Here’s the first clutch of articles about significant events over the past couple of weeks . . .
Elk River poisoned by coal mining– Dr. Ric Hauer of the Flathead Lake Biological Station of the University of Montana issued a March 2, 2013 study comparing water quality in the Elk and neighbouring Flathead River Basins. Commissioned by Glacier National Park, the study found nitrogen levels at 1,000 times the background rate, sulphate levels at 40-50 times the background rate and selenium levels at 7-10 times background rate (p.2). The researchers tested above and below mines and used the pristine water quality of the nearby Flathead River to determine background levels and ascertain what aquatic life would normally be present in the Elk River were it not so polluted. Continue reading . . .
FWP: Montana’s wolf population drops 4 percent– At least 625 wolves inhabited Montana at the end of 2012, a 4 percent population drop compared to a 15 percent increase the year before, according to state wildlife managers. The minimum wolf count is the number of wolves actually verified by FWP wolf specialists. The latest population estimate came while Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks comples the federally required annual wolf conservation and management report. The report is expected to be available online by April 12. Continue reading . . .
Agency to target fish in five creeks– Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will continue efforts to suppress rainbow trout and hybrid trout populations in the upper Flathead River system. Region One Supervisor Jim Satterfield signed a finding of no significant impact for the work Monday. That basically approves plans to continue removing hybrids and rainbows from the mouths and channels of Abbot, Sekokini, Rabe, Ivy and Third creeks in the main stem Flathead and North Flathead rivers. Continue reading . . .
Larry gives a little background on the efforts over the years to reach agreement on water quality issues between British Columbia and Montana . . .
Every North Forker is painfully aware that British Columbia is vital to our lifestyle and well being. After all, the North Fork of the Flathead River flows out of British Columbia and provides us with the cold, clear, pure water that is essential to us and to Flathead Lake.
For more than 30 years, we’ve been concerned about Canadian industrial threats to water quality in the river. Most urgent threat was the development of coal mines in the upper Flathead. This was one of the main reasons the North Fork Preservation Association was organized.
At one point, NFPA president John Frederick and his then-wife Sharon bought stock in the coal company that had development plans in the Flathead. For several years, they attended stockholders meetings to raise awareness of our concerns.
Montana Gov. Ted Schwinden began negotiations with British Columbia to address water-quality issues, and since then every Montana governor continued those efforts. Although the efforts of Govs. Stan Stephens, Marc Racicot and Judy Martz seemed to make little progress, step by step the Canadians and Americans were making headway. The International Joint Commission and the Flathead Basin Commission and B.C. officials continued to meet, share concerns and move toward a solution.
Posted early this morning to the Missoulian’s website . . .
A measure that would ban federal-land mining along Glacier National Park’s western edge has passed a major Senate hurdle, and has been expanded to provide water-quality protections for nearby communities…
…the bill banning future federal mine leases has been expanded from its original to include the watershed upstream of Whitefish Lake, the nearby Haskill Basin drainage, and the wild and scenic Middle Fork Flathead corridor.
University of Montana professor Ric Hauer will discuss threats to the water quality of Flathead Lake and the Flathead River at the next program sponsored by the Mission Mountain Audubon Society.
“Pristine waters and biodiversity threatened in the North Fork Flathead River” will be the subject of Hauer’s talk Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. in the Polson City Library meeting room. The public is welcome to attend.