North Fork appears safe from fires

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I am fully aware that the fire season is not officially over. We could still have some hot, windy weather and thunderstorms. Even so, I believe the Coal Ridge and Whale Butte fires, still not 100 percent contained or out, are no longer a threat to North Fork residents. The Forest Service plan of attack was good and effective. In fact, the North Fork Landowners Association has asked me (as president) to convey the thanks of owners to District Ranger Rob Davies, Forest Supervisor Chip Weber and especially Southwest IC John Pierson for the great work of the Forest Service. We greatly appreciate the two public information meetings held at Sondreson Hall as well as their effective firefighting skills.

Going even further, it is my person belief that we will not see a major fire on the North Fork this year. Cooler temperatures, higher relative humidity and shorter days all contribute to reducing the risk of a big fire. We will all remain alert to any possibilities while realizing the reduced risk.

The North Fork Landowners Association held the next to last meeting of the year and, despite a smaller than usual turnout, conducted a lot of important business.

Most important was the budget proposed by the Board of Directors. The proposal was several thousand dollars more that last year due to member approved cost of $1,300 for dust abatement and $5,500 budgeted for replacement of fence around our property and maintenance of the outhouse. The board felt these last two were maximum possible costs and they hoped both would come in under budget. There will be no need to ask for donations, no assessment and no increase in dues needed. A maximum of $5,600 would be taken from reserves leaving $15,000 in the emergency fund and more than $5,000 in operation reserves. The proposed budget was accepted by unanimous vote.

Also adopted unanimously was a survey to be mailed to all members in the fall newsletter. The survey addresses the tables by-laws amendment to change the meeting dates as well as questions proposed by the board so as to better serve the wishes and needs of the entire membership.

The real highlight of the evening was the hour-long presentation by Diane Boyd on wolves. Diane has had a 40-year long history with wolves and the North Fork.

She and Mike Fairchild conducted early wolf research on the North Fork starting when there was only one known wolf in the area. No wolves were introduced by humans in the North Fork. That first lone wolf mated with a disperser from British Columbia and had seven pups. Today, there are at least four packs on the North Fork, only one of which stays mostly out of Glacier Park.

Wolves exceed the original recovery goals and their population seems to have stabilized, allowing the current hunting and trapping guidelines.

Diane is currently the wolf specialist for Region 1 of the Fish and Game Department, which encompasses the five northwestern counties of Montana. She is also a North Fork landowner and a good neighbor. Thanks Diane.

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