Bad weather and the Interlocal

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The 2019 Winter Interlocal has been held, but the big news is the late, almost vicious winter weather.

Private landowners sent their concerns to the agencies in the weeks before the meeting, so their presentations took less than 15 minutes and the agencies managed to finish by 1 p.m.

There was some good information about which will, no doubt, fuel future concerns, but it is always good to have a heads up.

In the information category:

Moran logging on state land is 85 percent complete and will be finished this summer, so there will be fewer trucks on the road for the rest of the winter.

Redd counts for bull trout are up significantly and there will be a review of fishing regulations this year which may result in changes for 2020. There is a lot of discussion about banning Treble hooks on the North Fork. In my opinion, they should have been banned years ago and I think barbless hooks should be required, too. Since the North Fork is primarily a catch-and-release river, we should give released fish a good chance of survival.

Various folks are looking at the need for a Bear Aware program on the North Fork. This is due to conflicts last summer that ended in killing two grizzlies in the Polebridge area and the relocation of another. As part of bear awareness, there was a discussion of the increased number of rentals in the area and the responsibility of landlords to inform their renters about bear concerns.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks reported wolf and mountain lion numbers unchanged. Thirty mule deer were tagged last year, of which 11 died – mostly killed by mountain lions. Another 30 will be collared this year.

It is illegal to feed game. This includes salt blocks with game cameras. Bird feeders are legal, unless other game (like bears) are attracted. In that case, they must be removed.

Border Patrol staffing remains the same as in recent years, although some agents from here have been sent to the southern border for 30-day deployments.

In Glacier Park, seasonal hiring has been delayed due to the shutdown and the shutdown has also delayed project planning for this summer, including bridge repair at Polebridge and Bowman Lake traffic rerouting.

The air quality monitoring station will be deployed on the North Fork this summer and will have some online capacity.

With 100,000 entries at Polebridge in 2018, the one in and one out policy will continue for folks going to Kintla and Bowman Lakes and boat checks for mussels will continue as before. North Forkers should contact Polebridge Ranger Station for special inspections.

The Inside Road was made passable for emergency vehicles during last summer’s fires and may be open from Polebridge to Anaconda Creek this summer.

The FLAP grant to spend a couple of million on improving the Merc to Park road and the North Fork Road from Trail Creek to the border currently looks like design work in 2019, bid in 2020 and work will start in 2021. I worry that designers, planners and bureaucrats may eat up more than their fair share of the money and we might end up with less than half of the money actually used on the road.

What do you think?

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

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