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
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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

NFLUAC to meet at Sondreson Hall, March 9, 6pm

Greetings! You are all cordially invited to the next North Fork Land Use Advisory Committee meeting being held Tuesday March 9th at 6:00pm at Sondreson Hall. The text Amendment Sub Committee will be updating their progress. Your involvement is crucial to the success of this important endeavor to help preserve the North Fork we all know and love. Thank you.
Randy Kenyon
Chair, NFLUAC

Almost out of the woods for Fire Season 2020

Cross-posted from Facebook . . .
Well, we are almost out of the woods for Fire Season 2020 in the Northern Rockies. We have areas of dry fuel with potential in Eastern Montana, although the forecast is for normal fire potential across the Geographic Area.
Our rainfall in Northwest Montana on September 24 and 25 provided significant relief, but the warmer daytime temperatures leave us with some potential. More moisture will help a lot. Note there are other parts of the country that will continue to have active fire seasons.
This will be the last Outlook I post until Spring 2021. Feel free to access the monthly updates on your own, posted the first of each month.
Wait for a bit more before burning your piles, unless you enjoy chasing skunking fires. And when you do burn, be sure and know what the wind is going to do. Thanks, and be safe out there!

North Fork Zoning Hearing Notice – Tues, Oct 6, 6:00pm, Country Kitchen Building at the Fairgrounds

A public hearing before the County Board of Adjustment is scheduled regarding an Appeal filed by the North Fork Land Use Advisory Committee to a written Zoning Determination from the County Planning & Zoning Office (“CP&Z”) regarding rental cabins, guest cabins and a yoga studio on property located at 1070 Numa Peak Lane.  This Zoning Determination was made by the CP&Z in a letter to the owner of Montana Yoga Adventure subsequent to the August 4 Board of Adjustment hearing.  The Appeal, filed by the North Fork Land Use Advisory Committee, disputes the CP&Z’s interpretation of two items contained in the North Fork Zoning Regulations.  These items relate to “rental” cabin density (not guest cabins) which our zoning allows at one rental cabin “per each five acres of contiguous property owned”.  The County Planning & Zoning has interpreted our zoning differently, by allowing one rental cabin per every parcel of land owned.  In effect, according to them, our zoning provides that two separate parcels of record of contiguous property, each less than five acres, would be allowed a rental cabin on each parcel.   In addition, the County is considering a canvas wall tent as a structure and building (although a tent does not conform to the Flathead County Zoning’s definition of either a structure or building) and as such, could be considered a rental cabin.   We encourage all North Fork landowners to attend this public hearing on October 6 to voice their concern that our North Fork Zoning Regulations are being misinterpreted and not as intended.  Save the date!

Wildland Fire Potential Outlook – issued September 1, 2020

Well, there is Good News and Not as Good News in this Month’s Wildland Fire Potential Outlook!

The Good News is that Montana is now not forecasted for an “Above Normal” September as it has been in the past two Outlooks.

The “Not as Good” News is that things are critically dry across the State. Energy Release Components, an indication of the volatility of the fuels, are in the 95th to 97th percentile, which is pretty much pegging the meter.

For the most part, we have avoided the large fires associated with these seasonally dry fuel conditions. I think the lack of numerous starts from dry lightning storms factors into the equation. And, as we move into September, the potential for dry thunderstorms drops off.

However, there are numerous other ways fires can start – most of them human. Three fires started earlier this week along Highway 200 outside of Plains/Paradise where a flat tire on a trailer sparked fires with the wheel contacting the pavement throwing sparks. Unattended campfires are always a concern – even transitioning out of the summer camping season into the fall hunting season with hunter fires.

So, continue to be careful out there. If we get some of the forecasted moisture alluded to in the narrative, we’ll get out of this fire season relatively intact. More time to work on fuels projects for next fire season! Only You….

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

Results of the August 4 Flathead County Board of Adjustment meeting

Here is a brief summary of the results of the August 4 Flathead County Board of Adjustment meeting . . .

During the Flathead County Board of Adjustment hearing on August 4, 2020, there were three requests for Conditional Use Permits to operate a “Camp and Retreat Center” on various North Fork properties. Besides the applicants, about 40 North Forkers attended the meeting. Several of them expressed opposition to each of the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) requests during public comment. The objections to the Montana Yoga Adventure application were especially numerous, detailed and vigorous.

The Conditional Use Permit (CUP) request from North Fork Cabins, LLC for the acreage in the Home Ranch area containing the rental cabins was denied.

The CUP request from Northern Lights Land, LLC for the Home Ranch Store property was tabled until next month so that the applicant could supply more information. Unless something changes drastically, approval is unlikely.

The CUP request from Montana Yoga Adventure, LLC for their property on Numa Peak Lane was denied.