Friday, May 14, 2021

More thoughts on commercial camps

| September 9, 2020 12:05 AM

In this column last week, I wrote “Maybe we need a commercial campground on the North Fork.” That statement has caused more folks to tell me what they think than usual. All of them have been North Fork landowners and not one of them agreed with that comment. All of them opposed any kind of commercial campground.

So, let’s look at the opposite point of view.

Maybe we do not need a commercial campground.

In my personal view, I am not happy with the influx of more and more recreationists. Although I like the many new landowners, the subdivision of homesteads and the construction of more and more cabins combined with the tourists has destroyed the North Fork I knew as a boy and young man.

Let’s look at the facts. Since 1950, both the Park and the Forest Service have closed campgrounds on the North Fork. River access has been improved at Ford Station, Polebridge, Great Northern Flats and Glacier Rim. Only Glacier Rim could be called a campground, but camps have grown up at all of the others even at the border. I have counted up to 30 camps at Great Northern Flats and up to 20 at Ford Station. Both of these have one unisex toilet and no established fire pits or tables, only rock rings.

This year, Kintla Lake and Bowman Lake campgrounds are closed and maybe that accounts for at least part of the increased numbers of campers on the Forest side.

Whatever the reasons, there are more and more campers and certainly an improved North Fork Road has contributed to

that. Is there any reason to believe that this will not continue to be a bigger and bigger problem every year?

The multi-million dollar grant to improve the road at the north end will only add to the problem.

Whether or not the agencies provide more infrastructure for recreationists or private, commercial groups we have a growing problem that will only get worse if the community takes no action.

If we expect to solve or mitigate the problem we need to discuss it, look at ways to preserve our community values or, in a short time see our community changed for the worse.

What do you think?

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