2014 NFLA Hall Cleanup Day

The Sondreson Community Hall was buzzing with activity on Saturday morning for the annual Hall Cleanup Day.  Members of the North Fork Landowners Association had a fun time together and accomplished a lot in a short period of time.  Vice President Donna Harrison was in charge of the event and started things off with a list of things that needed to be completed.  Margaret Heaphy and Suzanne Daniel cleaned the outhouses while Bill Walker split kindling.  Richard Hildner and Randy Kenyon hauled kindling into the Hall while Jackie Graham dusted the rafters with Karen McDonough holding the ladder.  Alice Caldwell, Becky Braunig, Naomi Hoiland swept and mopped the inside of the Hall while Jan Caldwell cleaned the windows.  Debo Powers cleaned the generator shed while Bonny Ogle went after old wasp nests in all of the outbuildings.  Lynn Ogle helped to move tables.

An executive decision was made by President Karen McDonough to get rid of the old green plastic sofa and enthusiastic workers carried it out to the road hoping that someone will “steal” it.  Lunch followed with chili dogs provided by Donna and side dishes from other participants which included Naomi’s famous sticky buns.  After lunch, all of the furniture was moved into the kitchen to prepare the Hall for floor refinishing which is scheduled for the first few days in June.  The cleanup day was a demonstration of community spirit and cooperation and was greatly enjoyed by all participants.

Sondreson Community Hall Hazardous Fuels Project Update 5.19.2014

IMG_3132Allen Chrisman sent in an update for the Hazardous Fuels Project that is taking place at Sondreson Hall this month.  It begins…

Work started Friday May 16th on the Sondreson Community Hall Hazardous Fuels Project. Duke Hoiland and Allen Chrisman spent the day falling the smaller trees, cutting it into lengths for post material and green firewood, and piling some of the slash, getting ready for the general workday on Saturday, May 17. The intent of the project is to remove surface fuels, ladder fuels, and provide space between the crowns of the remaining trees to reduce the fire hazard.

Read the full report with all the pictures here.

New Books in the NFLA Trails Committee Library

North Fork landowner Randy Lakes has donated more books for the Trails Committee library. This library was started to provide information for landowners on the flora, fauna, and history of the Northern Rockies. A list of books can be found on the NFLA Library page of this website.

Thanks to Randy who has donated most of the books in this collection. Books can be checked out by North Fork landowners from Sondreson Hall from June through October. The newest titles are:

The Old North Trail: Life, Legends and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians by Walter McClintock
Switchback: Bill Yenne’s 50 Years in the Mountains of Montana and the West by W.J. Yenne
Northern Rocky Mountain Wildflowers by H. Wayne Phillips
Rocky Mountain Flora by William Webber
Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West by Dennis Paulson

The North Fork’s newest noxious weed

Blueweed - Photo by Trish Hoffman

Trish Hoffman, USFS Weed Specialist, wanted to provide us with a “heads up” that a noxious weed new to the North Fork has been discovered just north of the border on the Canadian side in the river corridor.  Spring runoff erosion will likely be bringing this new invader, Blueweed, onto North Fork properties that are adjacent to the Wild and Scenic River Corridor, if it hasn’t brought them south previously.

It grows to about 2 to 5 feet tall.  The flowers are in varying shades of blue.  The stamens are pink.  From a distance blueweed has been confused with lupine.

Blueweed contains an alkaloid that is toxic to humans and animals.  It attacks the liver.   Blueweed is pullable, but gloves and a long-sleeved shirt must be used because the stiff hairs on the plant make handling it similar to handling fiberglass.  Small infestations can be pulled or dug up and bagged.  If a larger infestation is found, call the Flathead County Weed Department for advice on using herbicide.  If blueweed is found growing with a hay crop, it will ruin the hay when baled and stored due to the plant’s high moisture content.  (I know this probably applies to only a couple of North Fork landowners.)

Early identification of this new invader and eradication of it while the infestations are small are critical to effective and relatively inexpensive control.  Besides, it’s just part of being a good steward of the land and a good neighbor.  For more information, contact Trish Hoffman at 406-758-3510.

Applications for 2015 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is taking applications for 2015 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

The program provides funding to forest landowners to help them manage their forest.   Practices offered under EQIP are: Pre-Commercial Thinning, Slash Treatment (pile& burn or chipping), Fuel Break around buildings, Tree Planting, and Noxious Weed Control.   The signup is continuous but the deadline to qualify for funding for spring 2015  is June 1, 2014.  Please contact the local NRCS office in Kalispell  at 752-4242 X 3 for more information or to obtain an application.

Spring open burning

The spring open burning season will run from March 1 to April 30. Burners must call the Ventilation Hotline daily at 751-8144 or check online at www.flatheadhealth.org before burning. The hotline and the Web site are updated daily before 8:30 a.m. Weekend information will be available on the hotline by 5 p.m. on Fridays. Prohibited materials include all man-made materials, treated materials, wood and wood by-product trade wastes. Construction debris is considered a trade waste. Campfires and warming fires are restricted to less than three feet in diameter and consist of materials less than three inches in diameter.

Fire Mitigation Committee Report, Late Winter 2014

2014 Firewise Day

For the ninth year, the North Fork has been recognized as a Firewise Community.  One of the requirements for recognition is holding an annual Firewise Day event.

This year, the Fire Mitigation Committee will sponsor its Firewise workshop on July 16, 2014 from 9:30 to noon, preceding the Summer Interlocal meeting.  The program will include a powerful video about several recent, destructive fires in Colorado.  The fire behavior depicted in the video is similar to that seen in large fires on the North Fork.  A principal message of the video is that firefighters can’t save structures if landowners haven’t done their part by modifying the fuels around them.  Tentatively, several landowners will showcase the fuels modification work that they have done on their properties.  Planning for the workshop continues.

Hazardous Fuels Grants

The DNRC awarded the North Fork its fourth hazardous fuels grant in the Fall of 2013, this one in the amount of $91,000.  Monies are available on a cost-share basis, with the grant paying 75% of the cost of an eligible project and the landowner contributing the remaining 25%.   A primary objective of the grant is to thin vegetation on private land along Trail Creek Road, making it a safer exit route in the event another large fire visits the area.   The committee will be working with private landowners, the Forest Service and possibly Flathead County to accomplish the work.

Funds under the third hazardous fuels grant are almost exhausted.   The grant has been used to connect landowners’ treatments with those on public lands, as well as to treat around homes.  For those interested in applying for grant monies, additional information is available on the NFLA web site.

Mapping Project

The Fire Mitigation Committee hopes to update maps of complementary fuels reduction work that has been done on public and private land since the Wedge Canyon Fire in 2003.  Wally Bennett, Type 1 Incident Commander during the Wedge fire, anticipates that the work will make a big difference in future fire behavior and suppression efforts on the North Fork.  He spoke at our successful and well-attended 2013 Firewise workshop, after visiting many of the sites.  Updated maps would enable the North Fork landowners and their agency partners to see what they have accomplished in the last ten years.

Thanksgiving at the hall was rich in community spirit

NFLA Vice President Donna Harrison recently attended Thanksgiving at the hall and sent in the following story…

Numbers were small, but community spirits high on a snowy Thanksgiving Day. The challenge of an icy, rutty parking lot was met with neighborly good
cheer as vehicles were pushed in to parking spaces.  The Hall was warm and lovingly decorated by volunteers who arrived early to make it a welcoming place.

Three turkeys and a beautiful ham donated by Steve and Christina Berg were prepared in the homes of several generous folks.  These and delicious dressings, scrumptious mashed potatoes and gravy, tasty casseroles, and salads awaited the line of diners. Of course, the beautiful table of pies
and cakes and other goodies tempted everyone and caused many to overeat (including me).  The smaller crowd made visiting easier, and lots of folks caught up with neighbors while enjoying food and fellowship in our unique North Fork way.

Thanks to everyone for a wonderful time.

Thank you Donna for sending in the story. Don’t forget, if you have something to contribute to the website, don’t hesitate to send it in using the NFLA contact page.