Grizzlies more concerning than a flood

| May 27, 2020 8:04 AM

It happens every year, but while still possible, a flood is by no means certain, maybe not even likely. Historically highest river levels occur in June, usually after the 6th. This first little push of runoff clears the low hills and much of the Whitefish Divide. The bulk of runoff is still in the high mountains and will come down in the next couple of weeks. Somewhat troubling is the weather forecast calling for 90 degree weather later this week — in the valley.

Typically, like in 1964, and in the mid-’90s, it takes a combination of warm to hot weather plus heavy warm rain to really create a major flood. While still possible, I don’t see anything in the weather forecast that makes it likely. Of course, my cabin is a mile from the river and about 30–40 feet above river level so I can afford to be somewhat complacent. If I lived in the Polebridge townsite, I would move my animals and valuables to higher ground.

At my cabin I am more concerned about grizzlies. I had three different bears in my meadow yesterday and all of my nearby neighbors have had multiple sightings in recent weeks. Bears are more common to see than elk and even though none of these bears have really bothered anyone, but have just grazed on new grass and clover. They are obviously habituated and not afraid of people.

When they were in my meadow my generator was running and they ignored it. Sometimes banging pots or shooting in the air runs them off and sometimes it doesn’t. Every year I am worried that someone will make a mistake and we will have a tragedy. In the meantime, keep your pets and kids indoors after dark.

Glacier Park remains closed as I write this. That policy seems more insane every day. Keeping Camas Road closed does not protect anyone. A couple kayaking on Bowman Lake practice social distancing just being there. Certainly shoving everyone onto Forest Service land to camp just makes distancing more difficult to achieve. I noted eight vehicles clustered at Ford last week and this week 13 people in three boats were floating and camping together. Certainly Glacier could open some activities in a measured way. Maybe Glacier Park folks could get some ideas from Yellowstone Park which I understand is partially open in Wyoming.

I understand we need to be careful and I am worried about folks from New York City and other corona hotspots bringing the virus to Montana. Even so, we still have to live and make a living. Let’s do it in a balanced careful way.

What do you think?

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