Increase in river floaters could prompt permit requirement

Print Article

Floaters glide down the North Fork of the Flathead just above the Camas bridge recently. (Chris Peterson/Hungry Horse News)

If the upward trend of visitors continues, federal land managers could implement a permit system to float the upper end of the North Fork of the Flathead River, Hungry Horse-Glacier View district ranger Rob Davies reiterated during a meeting with locals July 10.

Davies said the Forest Service will be releasing the proposed action for the new Comprehensive River Management Plan for the Wild and Scenic forks of the Flathead River in the next few days.

He told attendees at the North Fork Interlocal meeting that land managers would propose a permit system for the scenic portion of the river, which runs from the Canadian border to the Camas bridge if certain crowding thresholds are met.

The Forest Service and Park Service measure river use by the number of craft that float by on a given day.

The North Fork is bulging at the seams with visitors.

Glacier National Park ranger Regi Altop told the crowd that the daily average number of rafters in the summer months was 118 to 271 rafts per day, depending on the launch site, with the highest use from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Jurisdiction of the river is split — half is in Glacier National Park, the other half is largely Forest Service.

Car traffic in the North Fork is way up, too. The Polebridge entrance sees 250 cars a day, Altop said. Last year, 5,000 cars went to Kintla Lake during the summer months on an unimproved rutted dirt road.

Last year, the park implemented a 21-foot maximum length on Bowman and Kintla Lake roads. That length limit includes a trailer, which means that most towed units, save for some short campers on short cars, are now prohibited.

Davies was hesitant to get into details on the overall river plan, saying he wanted people to read the full text of the proposed action before coming to conclusions. A pair of public meetings on the action will be held in early August.

This is not the first time the Forest Service has said it’s considering a permit system for parts of the North Fork. The subject was also broached at an earlier Interlocal meeting.

The River Management Plan will set usage parameters on all 219 miles of the Flathead’s Wild and Scenic sections, which includes the North, South and Middle Forks.

Different sections of the rivers have different classifications under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. For example, the South and Middle forks in the wilderness boundary are considered wild.

Sections where there is more development, such as roads, are classified as recreational.

The upper North Fork is considered scenic and river managers want to keep it that way, meaning it will be managed in a semi-primitive state, Davies noted. That means bathrooms only at launch sites and other regulations, like prohibiting loud music on rafts and banning personal use of drones.

Some North Forkers want bathrooms placed at stopping points like Sondreson Meadow, but under the proposed action, that won’t happen.

Print Article

Read More

FWP moves two grizzlies who were eating from fruit trees

August 23, 2019 at 1:56 pm | Whitefish Pilot As autumn looms and fruit trees are bountiful, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks officials have been kept busy as bears seek food sources. FWP personnel on Tuesday captured a 2-year-old male grizzly b...

Comments

Read More

Ground breaking held for affordable apartment project

August 23, 2019 at 2:12 pm | Whitefish Pilot A ground breaking ceremony for an affordable housing project on Edgewood Place is set for Tuesday, Aug. 27. The Whitefish Chamber of Commerce, the City of Whitefish and the Whitefish Housing Author...

Comments

Read More

Theater camp

August 22, 2019 at 6:55 am | Whitefish Pilot Whitefish Theatre Co. recently hosted summer performance camps at the O’Shaughnessy Center. A group of young stars, in first through third grade, participated in the week-long playmaking camp. Th...

Comments

Read More

Food bank honors work of two special volunteers

August 22, 2019 at 5:25 am | Whitefish Pilot Laney Kneeland, 8, and John Pacheco, 88, both have a passion for volunteering at North Valley Food Bank. Kneeland has been visiting the food bank for about two years and Pacheco for 18 years. Both ...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 862-3505
312 E. Second Street
Whitefish, MT 59937

©2019 Whitefish Pilot Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X