Robust fire season still possible

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I know that a lot of people think we will have a light fire season since we had such a wet spring. It is not necessarily so.

True, it seemed like an awfully wet spring. In fact, May was very wet which caused grasses and low shrubs to grow faster and taller than usual. Maybe a factor in the big bear grass bloom?

June was not as wet as usual and, in fact, what rain came in June was more in the line of thunderstorms with sometimes heavy rain but always accompanied by high winds. Winds tend to dry out tall grass and, as a result, it is slightly drier than normal. Taller-than-usual grasses could become flash fuels as they dry out.

Good preventative measure is to cut all of the high grass around buildings, water to keep the lawn green, and keep it short.

While you are at it, trim bushes and trees around the house and remove any down, dead wood. Larch trees often lose limbs that dry out and make good kindling. Better to have that kindling stored in the woodshed to be put to good use for firebuilding, instead of letting an outside fire get to the house.

While we are on the subject of fire, there are still some dollars in the fuel management fund. If you think you need help to reduce fuels around your cabin or on your lane, call Bill Swope in Columbia Falls. He will do a free inspection of your property to see if you are eligible for a 75 - 25 percent grant to make your property safer. There are also grants available for thinning projects which make your forest healthier and reduce the risk of fire. Call your local office (Kalispell) of the Department of Natural Resources for more information.

Right now is also the time to be bear aware. Huckleberries are not ripe yet so bears are scrounging for food. Don’t leave dog food outside. A screened in porch is not a bear barrier. Haul garbage often and don’t leave it outside either. Bears are like us, they are omnivorous and eat a lot of veggies as well as meat. Unlike us, they don’t mind eating rotten meat and spoiled, moldy vegetables.

Finally, I hope we have zero fires caused by human stupidity—careless fireworks or campfires, that no one is hurt or drowned on the river, and that everyone has a safe, fun-filled Fourth of July.

Fireworks are illegal in the National Forest which surrounds us all. If your fire gets into the National Forest you will pay dearly, plus pay a big fine.

Duke Hoiland has had a long winter dealing with medical issues, which we all hope are about over. We hope that he and Naomi will soon be full time at Trail Creek again. They are extremely grateful for all of the support and help they have received from family, friends and neighbors. The North Fork is truly a special place.

Larry Wilson’s North Fork Views appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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