Get those issues in! Interlocal meeting July 14, 1:00pm, at Sondreson Hall

Bob Dunkley explains Park plans for the Polebridge Ranger Station, post Red Bench Fire, at the 1989 Interlocal at Sondreson Hall.
Bob Dunkley explains Park plans for the Polebridge Ranger Station, post Red Bench Fire, at the 1989 Interlocal at Sondreson Hall.

Hi, folks.

The Summer 2021 Interlocal  Agreement Meeting is at 1:00pm, on Wednesday, July 14 at Sondreson Community Hall. This summer’s  Interlocal is hosted by the North Fork Preservation Association (NFPA). It follows the annual Firewise meeting at 9:30am. Lunch is at noon, with the NFPA providing the main course. If you wish, bring a side dish or desert to share.

For those of you who are new to this, Interlocal meetings are held twice each year, winter and summer. These semi-annual get-togethers are intended to encourage open discussion between North Fork landowners and neighbors, and local, state and federal agencies. In other words, it’s a big deal if you have an interest in the North Fork.

As a convenience (it’s not required), I’m serving as a central point of contact for issues that North Fork organizations and individuals would like to see addressed by the various government agencies represented at the meeting. If you’ll send me your issues by the afternoon of Tuesday, June 29, I’ll pass them on to the various organizations in enough time for them to prepare their presentations. (Note: Please do not respond via Facebook. Use my email address, wkwalker@nvdi.com.)

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

Bill

June 1st National Wildland Fire Potential

I am a little late forwarding out the current National Wildland Fire Potential.  I’ll be sharing this through the fire season until we get our season ending event.

This is as we would expect given our dry spring and spreading drought.  The good news is that we in the North Fork are in a better position than most of the West.  That is not much consolation since the outlook across the West is grim.  Specifically for the Northern Rockies, here are some excerpts:

More than 87% of the western region is in drought with over half the region in extreme to exceptional drought. This represents the most expansive and intense drought for the West this century according to the US Drought Monitor and Steve Bowen. Drought continues to intensify in California and parts of the Pacific Northwest while persisting in the Great Basin and Southwest except for a small reduction in northeast New Mexico. Drought expanded in the Great Lakes and Carolinas but improved across much of Texas.  

Northern Rockies: Significant wildland fire potential for the Northern Rockies Geographical Area is expected to be normal in June and again in September. However, during the month of July above normal fire potential is anticipated to develop west of the Continental Divide and expand eastward to include all of the geographic area in August.

Although the recent short-term weather delivered some significant relief and encouraged green-up of fuels in the Northern Rockies, there is still a persistent underlying drought concern over the longer term. The monthly and three-month seasonal temperature and precipitation outlooks from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center for June through September suggest a trend of warmer and drier than average conditions developing across the geographic area for the “core” fire season months, particularly along and west of the Continental Divide in Idaho and southwest Montana. One of the most significant factors in these outlooks is the current transition to ENSO neutral and there is somewhat more confidence in the outlooks given that the spring predictability barrier is nearly behind us. A combination of greening-up fuels and the transient benefits of recent precipitation are expected to mitigate fire potential somewhat in June but in early July, fire potential is anticipated to be elevated above normal for the PSAs west of the Continental Divide based on the most recent outlooks and antecedent conditions from winter and spring.  

There has been consistency with the model forecasts for the ENSO outlook in bringing about a secondary La Niña period late this summer or fall. It is reflected in the September outlooks with less of a signal toward warmer and drier. Thus, the expectation is for something closer to normal fire potential in September.  

Basically for us the forecast indicates a fire season that will begin in earnest in July and be above average in August, returning to normal in September.  Complicating this forecast for us is that August is forecasted to be a very active month across the West – which will certainly limit resources available for the Northern Rockies and the North Fork.

By the time the reports for July and August are available, we’ll have a bit better idea of the extent and duration of the predicted fire season.  As always, we’ll be able to tell you precisely what kind of fire season we will have in 2021 sometime in November or December.

https://www.nifc.gov/nicc/predictive/outlooks/monthly_seasonal_outlook.pdf

County Planning Board meeting June 9th at 6:00pm

Greetings and a big thank you to those of you who have been kind enough to send in your comments to the planning office!  We’re not done yet, so if you haven’t yet sent in a comment there is still time until June 8th.  The email address is planning.zoning@flathead.mt.gov or snail mail Flathead County Planning and Zoning Office 1035 1st Avenue Avenue West Kalispell, MT 59901. The Planning Board meeting is scheduled for June 9th at 6:00pm on the second floor at 40 11th Street West (this is located at the south end of the skywalk between the two new county buildings). If you could attend that would be greatly appreciated!  Furthermore, if you would like to attend via Zoom here are the details:

To access the meeting and give oral public comment, please follow the instructions below.

Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/96624505851
Meeting ID: 966 2450 5851
One tap mobile
+12532158782,,96624505851# US (Tacoma)
+13462487799,,96624505851# US (Houston)
Dial by your location
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 966 2450 5851
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/arsKlhpM6

You will be instructed during the meeting when the public comment period is open for each agenda item. You can join the event starting at 5:45 p.m. on June 9, 2021.

If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact me!  And again thanks to everyone who has contributed in any way!

Sincerely,

Randy Kenyon
Chair, North Fork Land Use Advisory Committee

COVID-19: Updated Sondreson Hall Use Restrictions and Guidelines

The COVID-19 policy for events at Sondreson Hall is based on current CDC guidelines. People who have not been fully vaccinated are encouraged to continue taking precautions, including hand washing, wearing a mask and, where practical, practicing social distancing.

If needed, disposable masks are available at the hall. The suggested donation for a mask is $1.00, but do not hesitate to use a mask just because you don’t have a dollar handy.

Hand sanitizer is also available at the hall.

NFLA Board of Directors
May 23, 2021


Notes

In general, people are considered fully vaccinated:
    2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
    2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

See the CDC website (cdc.gov) for more details on COVID-19 precautions.

Spring newsletter and 2021 calendar posted

The 2021 Spring NFLA Newsletter is available on the website “Newsletters” page and the “NFLA Calendar” page has been updated. All new information and/or changes to the calendar, including pandemic-related issues, will be posted to this website and also on bulletin boards in three locations: between the Polebridge Mercantile and the Northern Lights Saloon, at the entrance to Home Ranch Bottoms, and one outside Sondreson Hall.

First Aid/CPR/AED Course May 24

First Aid SignageBob Lee will be giving his well-regarded First Aid/CPR/AED class in the North Fork again this spring. It is an all-day course, starting at 9:00am and wrapping up by 4:00pm. The date is Monday, May 24. The course will be held at Sondreson Hall. Cost is $45/person. Bring your own lunch and drinks.

With a course size limit of 10 people, maintaining appropriate social distancing shouldn’t be a problem.

The course offers AHA certification in First Aid, CPR and AED training. If your job requires certified First Aid training or if you just want to get up to speed on such things, this is an excellent way to get it done.

Contact Bill Walker, 406-407-2764 or wkwalker@nvdi.com to sign up for the course.

Note! Starting last year, the certification cards were distributed electronically. The folks sending the cards insist that every recipient have a unique email address. I.e., if you share an email address with someone else and you are both attending the course, one of you would need to pick up a second address. I can hand out temporary course email addresses if needed, just let me know.

Reminder: NFLUAC meets Tuesday, May 11th at 6:00 pm

Sondreson Hall by Gerry StearnsThe North Fork Land Use Advisory Committee (NFLUAC) has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday May 11th at 6:00 pm at Sondreson Hall. This meeting will provide the community with an update on what the committee has learned so far from the outreach received the past month and discuss possible changes to the text amendment. We hope to see you there.
Randy Kenyon
Chair, NFLUAC
AGENDA
NORTH FORK LAND USE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
MEETING TUESDAY May 11th, 2021
SONDRESON HALL
6:00pm
Masks and social distancing remain mandatory
Call to Order
Roll Call
Minutes of Previous Meeting
1. Update on results of community outreach from this past month.
2. Discussion regarding possible changes to the text amendment.
3. Public comment
Adjournment
Accommodations will be made for those with special needs

First bear update of the year from Tim Manley

Here’s the first North Fork bear update of the spring from Tim Manley, Grizzly Bear Management Specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. It was posted to Facebook on Wednesday, May 5 . . .

Good morning. Just a quick update on bears.

Last Thursday I released a 2-3 yr old male grizzly in the Coal Cr drainage. I had captured him near Glen Lake where he had gotten into unsecured horse grain and garbage. It appears that he has traveled to the area around Polebridge.

Also, the female with the 3 yearlings has also been reported near Polebridge.

I haven’t had any recent reports of the single bear that was in yards eating grass and not willing to leave on the PB bench.

The two blonde twins have been seen around Moose Cr.

Wesley Sarmento with FWP from the east front, released a 3 yr old female that was captured at a calf depredation site, last week in the Anaconda drainage in GNP. She was in the Logging Cr drainage on Friday.

The FWP population trend monitoring crew, Milan and Kyle, are trapping the Kintla/Bowman area starting today. They are staying at Polebridge.

If you see these or any other bears hanging around your yards, please try and make them leave. Also, remember to not leave out any food attractants.

I am headed up to Polebridge this morning. Let me know what you are seeing or hearing about bears. Thanks.

Sorry for the long post.

Tim

Forest Service posts Special Use permit details; deadline for comments is May 12

Heads up! It is Forest Service special use permit time again. Some of you may recall the kerfuffle over this last year, particularly when it came to guided ATV tours. There are a few more requests this year. There is a May 12 deadline for responses.

View/download the official press release.

Details on the various projects and information on how to submit concerns can be found at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/flathead/passes-permits/event-commercial/?cid=fseprd903970&width=full

Here is an extract from a very useful note sent by Rob Davies, Hungry Horse/Glacier View District Ranger, that provides more focus on the projects affecting the North Fork . . .

This is a fairly large list of proposals for this summer. We are at the start of an open public comment period. Comment period closes May 12th. No decisions have been made at this point and we are seeking comments and concerns. This is being released to the local media today. Maps and descriptions have been posted on our web site.

The proposed Recreation Events and proposed guiding that would affect the North Fork area are:

Adventure Cycling Tours
Bike Adventure Bike tours
MT Academy
Pancake Ride bicycle event
Spotted Dog Guided bike tours
Snow Bike Nation (e-bikes)
Whitefish Shuttle

Other than potential e-bike guiding on open FS motorized roads, and van shuttles (Whitefish Shuttle) delivering people to trail heads or just providing van tours, there are no motorized activities proposed such as UTV/ATV guiding in the North Fork.

Thank you for your interest and please respond through the official process outlined on our web site if you have concerns.

Thanks
Rob

Flathead National Forest Spring Prescribed Fire Projects

FNF Spring 2021 Prescribed BurnsSpring 2021 prescribed burn activity in the North Fork is limited to areas close to Columbia Falls, Coram and Martin City, although the rest of the Flathead National Forest is seeing considerably more activity.

From the press release…

Kalispell, MT, March 18, 2021- The Flathead National Forest is planning to conduct spring prescribed fire projects, when weather, fuel conditions, and air quality become favorable.  Smoke will be visible from various places in the Flathead Valley depending on the location of the burn units and weather conditions.

Each project follows a Prescribed Fire Burn Plan.  The prescribed fire projects are located and designed to be controlled to reduce the potential for adverse effects, or to escape as a wildland fire.  These projects will follow Montana air quality standards and coordinated with Montana State Department of Environmental Quality to reduce the impacts of smoke to our neighbors, cooperators, and surrounding communities.  The project areas include:

Pile burning: On the attached map major locations of concentrated piles are identified.  These may include both landing and hand piles.  There are also scattered piles not identified on the map which may also be burned.

 Swan Lake Ranger District:

Huey, Dewey, Louie Timber Sales – This project includes broadcast burning in timber harvest units located within the Blacktail Mountain area west of Lakeside, MT and South of Kila, MT. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, vegetation regeneration, and wildlife habitat improvement.

How Now Timber Sale – This project includes broadcast burning in timber harvest units located on Sixmile Mountain, North of Swan Lake, MT.  These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, and vegetation regeneration.

Swan Valley Bottom Maintenance Burning – This project includes maintenance broadcast burning in previously treated timber harvest units located within the Swan Valley. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction, large ungulate winter range improvement, and improvement of forest health.

Swan Lake Ranger Station – This project includes under burning the administrative site at the Swan Lake Ranger District office located in Bigfork, MT. These treatments will use prescribed fire for fuels reduction and wildlife habitat improvement.

Pile Burning – Hand or machine piles are located in locations within the Blacktail Mountain area, Swan Valley, Bigfork community, and miscellaneous piles around the district as a result of but not limited to: logging, hazardous fuels reduction in the wildland urban interface, hazard tree removal, recreation site management and trail or road construction. These piles are burned to reduce fuel loads in these areas. These piles are strategically burned based on their location, access, and weather conditions.

 Tally Lake Ranger District:

Martin-Radnor Unit 64 – 17-acre activity fuels hand ignited understory burn in the Wildland Urban Interface west of Olney with retention of mature Larch and natural regeneration.

Swamp Rat 9/9A – 64-acre activity fuels hand ignited understory burn just south of Star Meadows.

 Hungry Horse District:

Coram Pasture Rx—The prescribed fire is near Martin City on the Forest Service administrative site used for pasturing agency livestock.  This burn objectives are to maintain productivity of the site and reduce encroaching brush and saplings while improving range conditions. Approximately 20 acres is proposed.

Crystal Cedar Fuels Reduction project.  5 acres of handpiles north of Columbia Falls in the Cedar Flats area an additional 30 acres of handpiles near Parker road along the North Fork road will be targeted.

Hungry Lion TS.  25 acres of handpiles on Kuzmic lane in Coram will be treated this spring.  Additionally, 10 acres of handpiles along the Eastside reservoir road (FS road 38) will be treated

 Spotted Bear Ranger District:

Spotted Bear Ranger District is monitoring the weather and fuels conditions this spring in anticipation of conducting a few prescribed burns to meet a variety of objectives including slash reduction and site preparation in harvest units as well as reducing natural fuels in the surrounding areas.  All of the burn units under consideration for this spring are near the Spotted Bear Ranger Station on south and west aspects.

For more information about these projects, contact the appropriate Ranger Station:

Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger District: 406/387-3800

Tally Lake Ranger District: 406/758-5204

Swan Lake Ranger District: 406/837-7500

Spotted Bear Ranger District: 406/758-5376

For precise prescribed fire ignition dates and times, follow our Facebook and Twitter profiles at

https://www.facebook.com/discovertheflathead and https://twitter.com/FlatheadNF.  General forest information can be found online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/flathead.