Crowds out of hand

| July 22, 2020 7:27 AM

The Flathead National Forest and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks have some serious issues to deal with concerning overcrowding and overuse of the Blankenship river access.

I personally have counted up to 150 vehicles at the Blankenship take-out where the North and Middle forks converge. People are parked all the way up and down the road in the ditches creating dangerous congestion for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. There is the problem of the transient campers that sprawl their tents and giant RVs all over the gravel bar downstream of Blankenship bridge. There are folks literally living out there all summer, the stay limit is 14 days.

There is no pit toilet at the gravel bar so one can imagine how unsanitary things become as folks continue to use the gravel bar campground as a latrine. The Forest Service is aware of this problem, however it seems they tend to turn a blind eye to the monstrosity Blankenship river access has become. With no disrespect to the Forest Service. In their behalf, I do understand that in general there is a lack of budget dollars and shortage of personnel to deal with these problems.

I hope that the community and said agencies can figure out solutions to these problems rather quickly as year by year they become magnified with the popularity and growth of our area. Perhaps the Forest Service could implement day use only for this area? Maybe a campground host could be utilized to manage the illegal camping on the gravel bar.

Ryan Dunn

Columbia Falls