The Flathead National Forest announced this evening (Monday, November 20) the appointment of Anthony Botello as the new Forest Supervisor.
The Flathead Beacon has the story . . .
The Flathead National Forest on Monday announced that Anthony Botello will serve as its new forest supervisor overseeing 2.4 million acres of public land in northwest Montana.
Since April 2020, Botello has worked as the deputy forest supervisor for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in northeast Oregon. In his new role, he replaces Kurt Steele, who in June accepted a position at the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Region headquarters in Missoula, capping a three-and-a-half-year stint at the helm of the Flathead.
That put Deputy Forest Supervisor Tami MacKenzie in charge of the region’s forests until a successor to Steele could be found. On Nov. 20, the agency announced that Botello would likely begin his new role at the start of the new year.
Glacier Park has already posted details of their reservation system for next year!
The big news is the changes to the reservations for Going-to-the-Sun Road (GTSR) access via the West Glacier entrance. They will be one-day only, but a reservation will no longer be required to access the Apgar Village complex. However, reservations for facilities in the Apgar area will no longer provide access beyond the “Apgar filter check point.” GTSR reservations will be required from May 24 through September 8, 2024, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Polebridge entrance will be the same as last year: a one-day reservation running from May 24 through September 8, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Many Glacier access will require a reservation from July 1 through September 8, 2024, between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.
No vehicle reservation will be required to access Going-to-the-Sun Road from the east side!
Note that these new regulations should mean that we will no longer need a special “transit pass” (my term) to swing through the park via the Camas entrance.
OK, the “Pay Dues/Donate” button on the NFLA website is now officially visible. Things are still a little rough around the edges, but it is functional. If you encounter problems or have suggestions, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!
A summary of the well-attended (at least 40-50 people) October 18 bear meeting at Sondreson Hall…
The presenters from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks were Wildlife Management Specialist Erik Wenum of the Wildlife-Human Attack Response Team (WHART) and Justine Vallieres, Region 1 Bear Manager.
On October 1, a grizzly bear, apparently chasing a dog, encountered and mauled a woman at the “Bubble-Ups” near Trail Creek Road. Her husband drove it off with bear spray.
The next day, a dog went missing from a residence a few miles away from the Trail Creek incident. A neighbor’s photo showed the same bear in the yard. The dog never returned.
Another similar incident occurred on October 8 when a dog was attacked and killed at a cabin on Trail Creek Road. The owner shot at and injured the bear, which eventually retreated into the woods. Despite setting a trap and deploying a considerable array of cameras, FWP has seen no sign of the bear since it fled. Area residents were asked to keep an eye out for signs of scavenging activity, such as mobs of noisy birds.
Through DNA analysis, FWP determined that the same bear, a male at least 9 years old, was involved in all three incidents. The DNA data used for the match was from a hair sample obtained in Canada.
Both presenters pointed out that a grizzly bear deliberately attacking a dog is extremely unusual behavior. There have been a couple of incidents over the past few decades where a dog was killed accidentally because it was tethered between a grizzly and a food source, but neither had ever heard of an unprovoked attack.
About a month earlier, a man killed himself in the area near Tepee Lake. A bear discovered and consumed the better part of his remains. DNA analysis showed that this was not the same bear as the culprit in the Trail Creek incidents. It was a female grizzly that just happened to come across a food source. It is not a problem bear.
So, the female grizzly was just being a bear and is of little interest. If FWP happens to capture the aggressive Trail Creek bear, it will almost certainly be put down. There has been no sign of that bear since it was injured on October 8.
Incidentally, all this detective work is expensive. High priority DNA analysis costs FWP $1200 per sample.
A great deal of the general discussion covered items familiar to anyone who has been on the North Fork for any length of time: removing or securing bear attractants, being generally bear aware, and the importance of carrying and knowing how to use bear spray. One new item (to me, at least) was the importance of agitating bear spray periodically. Erik Wenum explained that the ingredients can separate out if the spray lays too long in one position. He likened it to storing unhomogenized peanut butter where the oil eventually rises to the top. He suggested at least shaking up your bear spray before you go someplace with it. Also, pay attention to the expiration date!
And perhaps the most important point: Justine asked that people not delay notifying her when they have a bear problem. The sooner she knows about it, the more likely it is that she can intervene without having to take drastic measures like putting the bear down.
As some of you may have noticed, the traffic notice sign at the Polebridge turn-off was updated late yesterday afternoon to show that construction activity will now extend into November rather than finishing up by late October.
This morning, October18, we received a progress report on the road construction work in the North Fork from Chris Rossmiller, a Senior Technical Specialist with the Federal Highway Administration’s Kalispell Regional Project Office. The entire report is below, with some minor editing and reformatting, but here’s the short version:
North end of North Fork Road — The contractor will work into the fall “as the weather allows.”They are 1.5-2 months behind schedule. The road surface refinishing will not be completed until next year. They will, however, ensure the road is usable prior to winter shutdown. This includes “shaping the road to drain, ensuring culverts are functional, ditches are cut to drain, erosion control measures installed, and hazards marked for plowing.”
Glacier Drive — Next week, the contractor plans to start using recycled asphalt millings to build up the stretch of Glacier Drive from the Merc property to Glacier Park. Weather permitting, they will complete the road work, but seeding work along the shoulders will be delayed until next spring.
A woman was hospitalized in an encounter with a bear Sunday near the U.S.-Canada border north of Polebridge in Flathead County.
At about 3 p.m., Oct. 1, 2023, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff were notified that a woman was attacked along the bank of Trail Creek a few miles west of the North Fork Road. The A.L.E.R.T. air ambulance transported the 73-year-old victim to Logan Health Medical Center in Kalispell.
FWP wardens and bear specialists are actively investigating the incident and monitoring the site along Trail Creek known as the “Bubble ups” where the creek flows underground before rising to the surface. The site is closed while the investigation continues. The type of bear is unconfirmed at this time.
The victim was on national forestland with her husband and dog when the bear emerged from thick brush and attacked her. Her husband deployed bear spray and the bear moved away from the victim. They returned to their vehicle and drove to a location where they could call emergency services.
An announcement from Mark Heaphy of the North Fork Patrol . . .
A bear attack occurred Sunday afternoon [October 1st] in the vicinity of the “bubble ups”; located about 5 miles west on Trail Creek road. The victim was ALERT flighted to Logan Health for treatment. FWP has closed the area for several days and is monitoring. Please do not enter the area. (Travel on Trail Creek Road is not restricted.)