Despite my feeling that the Interlocal Meetings are so filled with extraneous “bring and brag” conversation that discussion of concerns and problems has become limited, I remain a supporter of continuing the meetings.
One big plus for continuing them is the fact that residents get to meet the real people who work for the various agencies. For example, this year the new Forest Service archaeologist and the new Polebridge Ranger were introduced. Also, it was great to see old friends like Tim Manley and Rob Davies, as well as Dave Prunty and Kip Stratton.
They are all real people tasked with carrying out orders and policies established by their respective agencies. Without exception, they are professionals doing their best to serve the public. While I often disagree with agency policies, regulations, and orders issued in Helena or Washington D.C., they do not have that option.
However, they do listen and pass public concerns up their chain of command. That is why, as private citizens, we should voice our concerns with the actions and policies of government agencies. I recognize that local officials do not set policy for their agency. Part of their job is to listen to the people who are affected and to consider the effectiveness of what is being done. Even if I like the local ranger on a personal level, I will still criticize his agency on policy issues.
The Forest Service, in my opinion, is underfunded and understaffed in managing public recreation and timber management, and should be held accountable. On the other hand, on the local level, they are doing a tremendous job responding to the threat of wildfire. I think if they were better at timber management, we would have fewer stand replacement fires, which would free up more dollars to manage public recreation and we would all be winners.
Local management of local issues always seems more efficient.
The County Road Department has made tremendous strides in maintaining the North Fork Road and controlling the dust problem. I believe this is because of private citizens, notably Bob Grimaldi, and the RAC committee, bringing the road to the attention of the county officials. We owe a lot of thanks to Dave Prunty and Ovila Byrd for getting things done.
Still, it would be nice if a county commissioner would attend the Interlocal once in a while, even if just to listen, like our state representative Zac Perry does. Elected officials who listen to their constituents are usually more effective and thus more likely to be re-elected.
Most North Forkers spend more time enjoying our special place - GATR parties, floating, fishing, hiking, or just watching the chipmunks than attending meetings.
Everyone is invited to drop by the Ogle-Wilson photo gallery for an open house on August 20 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Free lunch and non-alcoholic beverages will be served. In addition to North Fork scenery and wildlife photos, there will be antique accents, even a good wood cook stove, for sale. North Fork craftsfolks and artists are invited to attend, and neighbors are invited to bring gently used items to sell.
Larry Wilson’s North Fork Views appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.