Saying goodbye to a good friend

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Last week, we knew that John Frederick’s illness was terminal and that he would be gone soon. His last days were filled with a constant stream of friends who came to say goodbye. I know he recognized and spoke to some and probably was in a coma for much of the time. The biggest thing was that he was kept comfortable, in no pain, and surrounded by friends. Now he is gone and is already sorely missed.

He and I were friends for over thirty years, despite being on the opposite sides of most environmental issues. We traveled together to meetings locally, in Helena, Washington State and British Columbia.

Our friendship was based on our mutual love of the North Fork. We knew that neither of us had all of the answers and that, if the North Fork was going to remain special, both sides had to have a part in any solution.

We worked together – arguing all the way — for over 20 years, trying to get an agreement with British Columbia to protect the North Fork River. We weren’t as successful as we hoped, but thank goodness others like Rich Moy did make headway with the Canadians.

Most successful was the Whitefish Range Partnership, and John and I were both happy with that effort. For the first time, multiple stakeholders, from logging companies to a variety of recreationalists, held meeting for over a year and crafted a forest plan for the North Fork that has the support of a wide spectrum of users.

Now, it remains to be seen if that Forest Service and the politicians can put the plan into effect.

Folks on both sides of North Fork issues need to remember that the issues are not about what is wanted by their special interests, but about what is best for the North Fork.

The North Fork can accommodate many different uses if it is managed for all of our interests.

The main strength of John Frederick was that he was not trying to promote things he wanted for himself. He was always trying to do his best for the North Fork – even when he was wrong.

No one can do better.

He was my friend and I will miss him.

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

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