Submit those Firewise-qualifying activities and expenses!

In order to maintain membership in Firewise USA, North Fork landowners must make an annual investment in wildfire risk reduction efforts. We’re required to calculate the number of hours spent in Firewise-qualifying activities, and the expenses associated with those activities.

A summary of some of Firewise-qualifying activities and expenses follows:

    • Collaboration and consultation time with forestry and fire experts
    • Organizing, planning, coordinating, implementing wildfire-related outreach events and educational presentations
    • Program administration time
    • Travel time to risk reduction meetings, trainings, and workshops
    • Attendance at wildfire-related education/informational meetings and events and at evacuation/preparedness trainings
    • Firewise improvements and maintenance on homes and outbuildings
    • Improvements and maintenance within the home ignition zone — for example, thinning or limbing up trees, reducing ladder fuels, dealing with slash and other debris, moving firewood piles
    • Vegetation removal; community clean-up
    • Committee members attendance and participation at Firewise committee meetings
    • Residents’ attendance and participation at wildfire education/outreach events
    • Writing wildfire educational articles

Qualifying expenses include equipment and tool purchases; mileage at the current IRS rate for attendance at wildfire-related meetings and trainings; purchases of food for meetings/trainings; contractor and labor expenses to perform risk reduction work; and the value of volunteer labor participating in risk reduction projects.

The Fire Mitigation Committee asks North Fork landowners to add up the number of hours they have spent in qualifying activities as well as the expenses they have incurred from November 1, 2020, to October 31, 2021. Please email your total hours and expenses to Molly Shepherd, mollshep@gmail.com. Your hours and expenses will be included in applying for renewal of the North Fork’s membership in Firewise USA.

Hay Creek Road reopens

Hay Creek Drainage, June 5, 2020 - W K Walker
Hay Creek Drainage, June 5, 2020 – W K Walker

From an email received this morning from District Ranger Rob Davies . . .

We just lifted the closure order for Hay Creek Fire.

The Hay Cr road and the area is all open as of today.

We will have warning signs and people need to be careful of snags within the fire area…

But the entire road is open and safe . Please spread the word.

Time to get your firewood permits!

NFLA President’s remarks at Lower North Fork Road Roundtable, Flathead Co. Fairgrounds, Oct 6, 2021

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

Commissioner Abell and Others:

For the record: Richard Hildner, President, North Fork Landowners Association, 350 Moose Creek Road, Polebridge, MT 59928.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak this afternoon. We applaud your effort to facilitate a multi-agency discussion on the North Fork Road and appreciate the opportunity to participate. The North Fork Community is no stranger to controversy when it comes to the North Fork Road. It was one of the topics at the inaugural meeting of the organization, June 2, 1947.

Because the subject is so divisive, the NFLA has refrained from taking a position on paving. We do, however, submit that regular maintenance and dust abatement are worthy of your attention. As an organization we are anxious to comment upon any alternatives you may develop.

It is clear from the record that any action beyond the status quo – i.e., grading and magnesium chloride – would necessitate multi-agency input, road design and costs, as well as environmental, social, and cultural considerations. This is consistent with the findings of the 2010 MDOT Corridor Study. Any consideration beyond the status quo, including the use of millings, must include cumulative and indirect impacts.

Speaking for the NFLA, we are in agreement that the North Fork Valley is a special place, valued for its remote nature, unique relationship with the local flora and fauna, and preservation of these characteristics is of the utmost importance.

Thank you for your time.

Richard Hildner
North Fork Landowners Association
PO Box 1603
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

Remarks in PDF format . . .

Last NFLA membership meeting of 2021, Oct 10, 6pm

The North Fork Landowners Association hosts its last membership meeting of the year on Sunday, October 10, 2021. We begin with a presentation by Mark Heaphy at 6pm followed by the general membership meeting at 7pm. Note that October’s meeting starts an hour earlier than our summer schedule (6pm vs. 7pm).

Bring a snack to share & items for the food pantry.

Mark’s presentation will cover search and rescue issues. He will also discuss solar power.

Please note that COVID-19 precautions at Sondreson Hall are governed by the current CDC recommendations for meetings in public venues in areas of the country of “substantial or high transmission” for the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. Seating will be socially distanced (six feet spacing), although family members may wish to sit closer together. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available to those who need them.

View current meeting agenda.

Prescribed fire work in the North Fork

Flathead National Forest just put out a press release listing the prescribed burns HHGV Fire Management Logoplanned for this fall. The only entry concerning the North Fork is…

Red Whale Fuels Reduction – Approximately 750 acres will be targeted for prescribed burning this fall in Moose creek and Moran creek. This project location is in the North Fork of the Flathead about four miles northwest of Polebridge. Depending on weather this burn is planned for mid to late September to early October. The purpose of this project is to help restore a more historical fire regime to the ecosystem, improve wildlife habitat and reduce hazardous fuels to reduce wildfire risk and aid in potential future fire suppression efforts, and improve wildlife habitat.

According to Andy Huntsberger, our District Fire Management Officer, “…it is very unlikely that we will be doing any burning besides piles on Glacier View District this fall. The window for activity fuels and ecosystem burning will probably close after next week and our priorities will be in the Southfork. I’m not saying it won’t happen but I am saying it is very unlikely.

Hosting Thanksgiving at Sondreson Hall

Sondreson Hall by Gerry StearnsDear North Forkers:

Thanksgiving dinner hosts, Janet and Dick Leigh, are unable to host this year’s celebration. While this is not an NFLA sponsored event, any NFLA member can volunteer to be the host. Hosts are responsible for organizing, conducting, and cleaning up afterwards.

If any NFLA member would like to host Thanksgiving dinner at Sondreson Hall they should submit a rental application to the NFLA Secretary, Karina Pettey (karina@petteyfamily.org). Janet Leigh has volunteered to share information about hosting responsibilities and details with anyone interested in being this year’s Thanksgiving dinner host. Janet’s email address is janet.l.leigh@gmail.com.

Again, please let the NFLA Secretary know if you are interested. Thank you for your long-time interest and support.

Wishing you all the best,

Richard Hildner, President
North Fork Landowners Association

Fed bears; dead bears

Monica, June 8, 2020 - W. K. Walker
Monica, June 8, 2020 – W. K. Walker

The Flathead Beacon has a good article by Tristan Scott discussing the loss of Monica and her three cubs, as well as the general North Fork community issues surrounding living with wildlife. Both the NFLA and the NFPA get a mention . . .

Twenty years ago, new arrivals to the remote North Fork Flathead River community of Polebridge were likely to hear some version of the following when asking for directions — just head north and hang a right at the pile of bear scat.

Situated on the doorstep of Glacier National Park, which merges with the Bob Marshall Wilderness to create the largest intact natural ecosystem in the Northern Rockies, the North Fork’s resident grizzly bear population has historically outnumbered its year-round residents, as evidenced by the prominent distribution of scatological droppings along the area’s trails and roadways. Still, the human interlopers who do call this wild chunk of country home have, more or less, learned how to coexist with their mammalian neighbors, reaching an accord that just comes with the territory in bear country.

And yet in recent years, due in part to the increased visitation at Glacier National Park, whose western boundary is defined by the North Fork Flathead River, as well as the expansion of commercial services in and around the community of Polebridge — leading to the development of “work camps” to house a growing number of seasonal workers — human-wildlife conflicts have been on the rise.

Read more . . .

Joint NFLA/NFPA press release: Small Community Loses Grizzly Family

For Immediate Release: September 8, 2021
Contact:
   Richard Hildner, NFLA President, richardhildner@icloud.com or
   Flannery Coats, NFPA President, flannery.e.coats@gmail.com

Small Community Loses Grizzly Family

Monica with three cubs, June 8, 2020 – W. K. Walker
Monica with three cubs, June 8, 2020 – W. K. Walker

Polebridge, Montana [September 8, 2021] – Bear #418, known to locals as Monica, was euthanized Saturday, September 4th along with her three female yearlings, after receiving a multitude of food rewards over the past week. Due to several incidents involving improper food and garbage storage within an eight-mile radius of the Polebridge townsite the bears were ultimately deemed food-conditioned. Monica had been a resident female grizzly bear in the North Fork Valley for 17 years.

In response, two local non-profits, the North Fork Landowners Association (nflandowners.org) and the North Fork Preservation Association (gravel.org), will be working together, along with agency partners, to help improve food and garbage storage in the area as well as to make financial aid resources from conservation organizations such as Defenders of Wildlife and Vital Ground more readily available to residents and business owners in the North Fork.

The North Fork community deeply grieves the loss of Monica and her cubs and in the coming months will explore new avenues to further educate and assist residents and visitors in how to live and recreate in bear country in a manner safe for both bears and humans.

Reminder: First NFLA meeting of 2021-2022 season, Sep 12

Sondreson Community Hall
Sondreson Community Hall

The North Fork Landowners Association hosts its first meeting of the 2021-2022 season on September 12, 2021. We begin with a North Fork history presentation by Lois Walker and Arne Boveng at 7pm followed by the general membership meeting at 8pm.

Here’s your opportunity to meet our new officers, learn what they are planning for next season and how you can be an active part of our community. On the agenda is a report from our new president, Richard Hildner, regarding North Fork Road conditions and Glacier View Drive. We will also discuss the time for NFLA meetings each month (no changes may be made to the regularly scheduled date of the meeting).

Bring a snack to share, and join us for an interesting presentation by the History Committee at 7pm followed by our Membership meeting at 8pm.

Please note that COVID-19 precautions at Sondreson Hall are governed by the current CDC recommendations for meetings in public venues in areas of the country of “substantial or high transmission” for the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. Seating will be socially distanced (six feet spacing), although family members may wish to sit closer together. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available to those who need them.

View current meeting agenda.

Summer Solstice Hike, Monday evening, June 21, 7:00pm

PLEASE join me (Zoe Zardis) to CELEBRATE the beginning of Summer with our North Fork June Solstice hike on Monday evening, June 21st to Cyclone Lookout.

Even though this year’s Summer Solstice actually happens on Father’s Day, June 20th, we will still reap the benefits of the LONGEST period of sunlight hours.

Meet at the intersection of Hay Creek and North Fork Roads @ 7:00pm.

    • I will be driving a black Subaru.
    • We can carpool to the trailhead.
    • If you prefer to drive separately I will give you directions.

Continue reading Summer Solstice Hike, Monday evening, June 21, 7:00pm